By Charles Sercombe
First it was chickens, and now it’s front yard vegetable gardens.
The city council has been on a tear recently in updating various ordinances. A few weeks ago the council — at least a majority of the members — ruffled some feathers by allowing households to have up to six chickens and 100 pigeons.
That raised a protest by some who were concerned about foul odors and attracting rats.
Although it has been a few weeks since that was passed, there is still an outcry by some.
One woman came to last week’s council meeting to complain.
“There’s a reason chickens are out in the country and farm, and that’s the smell,” said the woman, who did not identify herself. “Where are my rights?”
The same woman also opposed a proposal championed by Mayor Karen Majewski to amend the city’s noxious weeds ordinance to allow front yard vegetable gardens.
She said that will only encourage kids to pick the vegetables and throw them at things and houses, plus be food for rats.
Majewski disagreed with that reasoning, saying that if gardens attract rats “why not outlaw all vegetable gardens?”
Majewski also said that front yard gardens are a “growing trend” (apparently no pun intended).
The mayor is correct. There is a national movement toward allowing this, according to an Internet search.
But according to an April 1, 2013 article in the American Bar Association Journal, called “Legal battles over gardens are sprouting up across the country,” it has also lead to an increasing number of conflicts, or as the article said: “front yard garden wars.”
The article went on to say the main concern over front yard gardens is that they lead to a rat problem and if not maintained look like blight and thus drive down nearby house values.
In Hamtramck things are different. Councilmember Abu Musa pointed out that there are some houses that are set back about 40 feet from the sidewalk, which creates a large front yard but little or no back yard. Those houses were built decades ago when there was a housing boom and houses were built behind other houses.
In some cases, the house in front was eventually torn down, leaving a long open space.