Florida Couple Sues After Front-Yard Garden Is Banned
A South Florida couple has decided that the draconian grasp of the local town ordinance shall not stand. Not in their front yard!
Let’s back up a minute. Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts, according to the Associated Press, have had a vegetable garden in the front yard of their home for 20 years now. The couple live in Miami Shores, a densely populated town just north of Miami proper.
In 2013, the Miami Shores Village Council, a five-person elected board, crafted a new zoning plan for the town. It is…well, let’s just let Richard Sarafan, the lawyer for Miami Shores, describe it. From the AP:
“There certainly is not fundamental right to grow vegetables in your front yard. Aesthetics and uniformity are legitimate government purposes. Not every property can lawfully be used for every purpose.”
Carroll and Ricketts were repeatedly told to stop growing vegetables—75 varieties, all organic, the AP says—or be slapped with a $50-a-day fine. This is in their front yard, remember. So the home gardeners struck back, suing the Village for passing and enforcing a law that, they say, violates their constitutional rights. They’re also suing based on the equal protection clause, arguing that to single out vegetables over ornamental plants is unconstitutional.
The couple is being represented by the Institute for Justice, a self-described libertarian public interest law firm. The judge didn’t immediately rule at a hearing earlier this month, though both sides are expecting to appeal either way.