Front yards are no longer just for grass

Front yard vegetable gardens were given the go-ahead at last week’s city council meeting.

Front yard vegetable gardens were given the go-ahead at last week’s city council meeting.

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.

2 Responses to Front yards are no longer just for grass

  1. Carolyn Kozicki

    June 30, 2016 at 8:21 am

    I don’t know what department to go to. I want to make a complaint about 11339 St. Aubin Street Hamtramck. Their front and back yard look like a really bad everything is over grown and nothing is being done about it. I don’t know if anybody from the city has been out here. We keep our property nice and clean and take care of the alley too and they don’t do crap. I know the onwers live in Grand Rapids and there are renters living there. They have live there for quite a few years and they know that they have to keep the place clean, but they don’t seem to care. I hope something can be done before the end of summer. In the winter they don’t even bother shoveling the walk. I’m really getting tired of making a complaints and nothing is being done.
    Thank you for your time. I would appreciate and answer.
    Sincerely.Carolyn Kozicki mrscarol629

  2. Millie Jordan

    April 30, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    The best solution is to live on a street that the code officer travels on his way to work. My property was built on an ancient burial ground or something, as my front yard sprouts weeds that grow insanely fast. I keep it up as best I can, but it’s been nearly impossible to find a lawn service that will come to Hamtramck. I get letters all the time with threat of fines. Sorry I wasn’t more helpful.

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