Mich. Front-Yard Garden Charges Dropped

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on July 20, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's a strange thing how Julie Bass' garden has become national news.

Facing a fine and 93 days in jail for planting a raised vegetable garden in front of her home, the Oak Park, Michigan woman took to the internet, causing citizens far and wide to bombard city hall with letters of support.

Local prosecutors have reportedly dropped the garden charges, but are still going after her for failing to license her dogs.

The story of Julie Bass' garden begins in May, when a sewer repair left her and her husband with a torn up front lawn, reports The Detroit News. After getting a non-answer from city officials about a front-yard vegetable garden, the pair decided that they would plant.

But a neighbor complained, leading to a citation and a refusal to tear up the garden.

While many would have complied with Oak Park's request, Julie Bass had a good reason not to.

The local ordinance only permits "suitable" vegetation in front yards according to the Detroit Free Press.

What, exactly, is suitable? No one seems to know, but haven't there been times when citizens are encouraged to grow their own food?

This uncertainty, particularly because those who violate the ordinance may face jail, arguably makes the law unconstitutionally vague and thus unenforceable.

So while Julie Bass' garden could very well have won if prosecutors decided to charge her, she's not completely off the hook when it comes to her dogs. She likely won't find a loophole there.

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