Attorney says Oak Park woman prepared to face trial for ‘crime of planting vegetables’ in yard
An Oak Park woman facing a misdemeanor charge for planting a vegetable garden in her front yard is prepared to fight for her rights in court, according to her attorney.
If the city does not drop the case before a scheduled June 26 hearing, “then we’ll have to settle for a trial and see if there’s actually a jury out there that’s going to call this woman a criminal for growing vegetables,” Solomon Radner said this morning on WJR-AM 760.
As Fox 2 reported last week, Julie Bass installed a series of planters in her front yard that officials claim violate a portion of the city code limiting a homeowner to “grass ground cover, shrubbery, or other suitable live plant material” in any unpaved portion of their yard.
“If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster’s dictionary, it will say common,” City Planner Kevin Rulkowski told the television station, apparently failing to look up the definition before citing it. “So, if you look around and you look in any other community, what’s common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers.”
Listen: Solomon Radner
But Radner, who Bass hired after the dispute ended up in court, argued the code itself is unfair. “It doesn’t even come down to question of fact,” he said. “It comes down to whether this law is too abmigiuous to be legal.”
Radner said the city originally offered to drop the case if Bass got rid of her garden next year, but she refused to offer in protest of an ordinance the city can “selectively enforce pretty much against anyone it wants.”
While municipalities around the nation are free to enforce their own zoning regulations, Radner said this case is unique because officials are prosecuting Bass rather than citing her for a civil infraction.
“In oak park this is actually considered a crime,” he said.