An Orlando man is fighting City Hall to be allowed to keep his vegetable garden.
According to a story in ClickOrlando.com, Jason Helvingston’s garden is not up to city code. They want him to dig it up.
City code reportedly requires ground covers to be planted in a way that keeps up the appearance of the neighborhood and maintains the property values.
The City of Orlando says Helvingston's garden doesn't measure up. He has collected signatures from neighbors who support his garden and plans to appeal.
He goes back before the city next month.
In Sarasota County, like most jurisdictions, Code Enforcement can remove "excessive vegetation," but Orlando is focusing on the fact that the garden is in the front yard.
Excessive Growth shall mean the uncontrolled growth of vegetation that:
Is not cultivated or regularly tended;
Has reached a height in excess of twelve (12) inches;
Is or may reasonably become infested by pests;
May create a fire or safety hazard;
May tend to decrease the value of neighboring properties;
Tends to decrease the value of the property on which the prohibited excessive growth occurs.
Excessive growth includes vegetation having the characteristics described above and growing from private lands into or across public rights-of-way, utility easements, sidewalks, drainage ditches, swales, or streets. Excessive growth does not include the following provided they do not constitute a fire, safety, or health hazard:
Shrubs, trees, palms or bushes (natural or cultivated) that are used for landscape purposes or are not otherwise subject to conventional mowing;
Vegetation located on a lot which is either in a natural state or has not been mowed within the past five years;
Vegetation located more than two hundred (200) feet from the boundary line of another improved property, street, or public right-of-way;
Tended, natural landscaping;
The understory of hammocks that are protected through development regulations, conditions, or agreements, and vegetation within wetlands and stormwater retention lake littoral zones; or
Vegetation which extends across private property lines.
In the meantime, the city wants him to comply with an order to dig up the garden and bring his front yard up to code.
So what do you think? Does a government entity have the right to tell a property owner that his vegetable garden is not attractive enough for the neighborhood?