City Hall Now Wants to Support Community Gardens and Neighborhood Farmers Markets

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Speaking of things Jim's written about ...

Maybe you read his cover story in the paper version of Unfair Park two months back -- you know, the one about how City Hall says it likes community gardens but, um, not really? Right. That one.

Anyway. On Monday afternoon the city council's Transportation & Environment Committee is going to discuss how it can, at long last, help out those looking to eat what they grow. Jim's planning on attending, of course, but till then the briefing makes for an interesting read, since the city more or less agrees with Jim and the community gardeners with whom he spoke. Says the doc, "Groups wishing to establish community gardens in Dallas face several challenges," chief among them "City Code does not allow for community gardens as a primary use on private property."

The city appears to have a policy and some plans to rectify that, including alterations to the language in the City Code, which will require a stop in front of the plan commission's Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee. Also, the city now appears ready and willing to help with property acquisition, going so far as to dip into the Land Bank: "Identify surplus or underutilized City-owned sites for potential use as gardens [and] explore allowing community gardens on Land Bank properties as an alternative to mowing."

At that very same briefing, the city will also discuss its recent efforts to shutter neighborhood farmers markets. Seems the city's had a change of heart when it comes to that subject as well, so long as they're properly permitted (through the Dallas Farmers Market) and regulated -- and at least three miles away from Dallas Farmers Market (and each other). There will be fees involved, of course -- $250 annually, per initial discussions. Pages 30 and 31 of the briefing lay out all of the drafted guidelines council will consider.

Says the briefing, the council hopes to get this off its plate by March.

One other item of interest on the committee's agenda Monday: "DART Briefing on Lessons Learned Regarding Rail Service during State Fair TX-OU Weekend." No paperwork, just the heads-up.

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