Owning one's own property often means that a Florida resident may exercise a great deal of authority over how that property is maintained and for what purposes it is used. As readers of this blog know, however, municipalities may limit the permissible uses of various parcels based on how they are zoned and any applicable ordinances that may be in place. One Florida couple endured a multi-year battle over an ordinance that blocked their desires to maintain a garden on their property.
The couple lives in Miami Shores and had planted and maintained a garden in their front yard for a number of years. They chose to maintain their garden in their front yard because it received more sun that their backyard. A new zoning ordinance was put into effect that forced them to uproot their garden or face a $50 per day fine.
The husband and wife team chose to sue and take on the ordinance. For six years they battled with their legal advisers to have the ordinance reversed, but ultimately saw an appeals court rule against them. The Florida legislature, however, took up the matter itself and passed a law to encourage the growth of gardens on Florida properties; that law was recently signed by the governor.
A matter as simple as a personal vegetable garden can become a major property rights issue when local, county and state land use laws inhibit individuals' rights to use their land as they see fit. Readers of this blog may wish to speak to their own land use legal counselors to better understand what they may do to battle the restrictive ordinances that limit their land use plans.