Springfield (ECWd) -
Representative Sonya M. Harper (Chicago), has introduced legislation that would allow State and local governments to regulate your garden. Yes, that sentence is correct! An Illinois lawmaker wants the State and Local Government to have the power to regulate your own garden. HB 4704
The title of the proposed law is about as deceptive as some of those laws we see from our Federal Legislators, like the "Affordable Care Act", that turned out to be anything but affordable.
"Right to Garden Act"
Who can dispute a great title like that? The title is the first step in convincing legislators to support it.
We believe property owners already have a right to a garden on their own property. The Illinois Appellate court even made such a reference in a case dealing with a person who had pet chickens for food on his residential property.
"Rather, his use was merely incidental to a permitted residential use of his property, much the same as having a vegetable garden." (City of Sparta v page)
From the Text of the Legislation: Section 5. Findings. "The State of Illinois finds that the right of a property owner to create and maintain a garden on his or her own residential property, whether it be for produce, flowers, herbs, fungi, or grains, and when done so for one's own consumption and enjoyment, should not be infringed upon by the State or any unit of local government."
Reading the "Findings" portion of the law, it sounds great! Everyone would support that kind of a bill, with the exception of the "for one's own consumption" language. It's not the government's business who will be consuming items grown in private gardens. The "own consumption" just happens to also create a problem for those wanting to sell items from their gardens.
However, this law does not appear to be about a person's right to garden but rather the government's right to regulate the use of private property.
With all the bills being introduced the first part of a bill gets read and if it makes sense or sounds logical then they vote for it without doing a deep. This is one of those types of bills. A great title and initial language that a cursory read will lead most people to believe this is a great bill.
Reading a whopping fifteen lines deeper into the text of the bill, we find yet another encroachment on people's private property rights.
Section 15. Regulations of gardens on residential property. The State or a unit of local government may regulate gardens on residential property unless a statute or regulation has the practical effect of precluding gardens on residential property entirely. Permissible statutes or regulations include, but are not limited to, those pertaining to restrictions on water use during drought conditions, existing or future adoption of property set-backs, maximum lot coverage, utility safety, fertilizer use, control of invasive species, or a substance regulated under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, the Industrial Hemp Act, or the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.
How many people think the State Government should be permitted to regulate a garden on your own private residential property?
How many people think their local government should be permitted to regulate a garden on your own private residential property?
While we understand there are some municipalities that have zoning rules regarding the location of a garden, such as restricting them to back yards, this bill goes well beyond issues of zoning.
If passed as written, it would permit the State of Illinois to regulate gardens on private property. It would also permit a local government to regulate gardens on private property.
If Representative Harper wants to protect people's property rights, let's keep it real simple and introduce a bill that is straight forward and provides no government expansion into people's private property.
Suggested amendment to HB 4704 - Strike everything and replace it with the following.
"The State of Illinois finds that the right of property owners to create and maintain a garden on his or her own residential property SHALL not be infringed upon by the State or any unit of local government."