Toledo planning and zoning committees defers urban gardening proposal to 2018

Toledo Planning and Zoning Committee discuss the future of urban agriculture.

Toledo, Ohio (WNWO)-- Has the battle over urban farming finally come to a head? Not yet, but Toledo might be a step closer.

On Wednesday night, City Council's planning and zoning committee held a public hearing to discuss the urban agriculture ordinance.

Before being postponed, the ordinance received a lot of criticism from urban farmers.

One major point of contention, should Growers have to pay a fee to sell their fruits and vegetables ?

According to the proposal, yes. It calls for $300 for a special use permit. A city planner said the fee would be used for processing services such as: site planning reviews, hearings, inspections etc. . They City also noted Farmers would only be charged in the event they attempted to sell their produce.

Still, for many that wasn't enough. Several spoke up and shared testimonies about the need for fresh food and the concern about the regulations. Many argued limitations on the time to sell (The proposal would only allow sales from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) , size and structure of growing spaces could discourage farmers.

Urban farmer Thomas Jackson, also spoke up about the regulations calling them "unfair".

Back in May he was fined $3,000 for failure to remove wood chips on two of his neighborhood properties. His punishment was one of the main catalysts for the debate on urban farming and need for regulation.

"I know we need an ordinance because if I had an ordinance when I was in court, I wouldn't have went through the issues I had, but we need the right ordinance not a rushed ordinance,"said Jackson.

Councilman Tyrone Riley motioned the ordinance be deferred for 60 days to January 10 2018 -- the first planning and zoning meeting of the year. Between now and that time, Riley said he was optimistic in moving forward with developing legislation more reflective of the urban farming community.

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