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Florida Senate okays bill to protect home gardens

Can zoning laws be enacted to allow Florida communities to keep residents from planting vegetable gardens or fruit trees in their front yards?

The state Senate says no, recently approving legislation that would ban town and city officials from regulating front-yard vegetable gardens. The state House of Representatives will consider a similar measure.

The bill grew out of a 2013 incident in Miami Shores, Florida, in which the city modified its zoning ordinance so that homeowners couldn't plant gardens in front of their homes.

In response, one couple there who had enjoyed growing vegetables for 17 years sued the city, which in turn fined them $50 per day for failure to remove the garden.

The author of the measure in the Senate said the lawmakers should support Americans' growing fondness for organic and locally grown food, as well as to allow lower-income people the means to grow their own healthy food.

"And I think the idea that a local government would intervene (in) someone taking matters in their own hands, much as our forefathers did … violates our fundamental principle of property rights in this state," the state senator said, according to Florida Politics.

One dissenting voice in the Senate said he wondered if some of the vegetables and plants could infringe on the property rights of others. Could fruit trees and corn stalks, for example, grow so big they could interfere with neighbors enjoying their own properties?

A similar bill will require the approval of the House of Representatives before a law can be enacted.

When we buy our homes, we all want the ability to enjoy them as we see fit. Zoning laws often can change how we can enjoy our homes and should be fought if they interfere with our property rights. If the use of your property is being threatened by something such as a city ban on gardens, an attorney can review the details and help you fight such zoning laws.

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