Monday, October 07, 2013

Lehigh Township Calls Suburban Farm a Nuisance

He never promised them a rose garden. But starting 13 years ago, Karl Hirsch did make a commitment to feed his wife and four children the most nutritious food he could find. And he's found much of it it in his own front yard on Church Road in Lehigh Township, where a nice southern exposure enables him to grow just about anything. "There are things you can grow here you won't find in any grocery store," he boasts. But to Lehigh Township officials, it's just weeds. They've taken this front yard gardener to court, dismissing his organically grown produce as a nuisance.

From a superficial view, Hirsch's front yard does look neglected. But that's because he's cultivated every square inch. "I defy them to walk through this yard and find one six inch weed," Hirsch stated, as he worked on his garden. He acknowledged his front yard is no typical manicured lawn, which he derided as a "green desert."

Jerusalem artichokes, a native species thought to help people with diabetes
His passion for growing his own food started when one of his children suffered a traumatic brain injury, while yet another developed cerebral palsy.

He cultivates the purple cone flower, believed by many to stimulate the immune system. He also grows the Jerusalem artichoke, a species of sunflower native to North America. Its tubers lack the starch that exists in potatoes. It contains inulin, which may help people suffering from diabetes.

Hirsch even has a pawpaw tree, whose fruit was George Washington's favorite dessert.

Not the typical manicured lawn
But he grows plenty of the more traditional forms of produce, including 150 lbs. of potatoes last year. Strawberries, garlic, chard, carrots, beets, green beans, wax beans, snow peas and radishes. He claims to have saved thousands and thousands of dollars.

But according to Lehigh Township Zoning Officer Laura Harrier, Hirsch is a nuisance in violation of Lehigh Township's weed ordinance. That local law prohibits any growth of grass or weeds over six inches high. Interestingly, the Township ordinance defines weeds as inedible plants.

After a hearing before District Judge Robert Hawke, Hirsch was found to be in violation of the weed ordinance.

Hirsch plans to appeal. "My yard might be unorthodox, but I'm not trying to flout the law," he explained..

It also appears to include healthy edible plants that existed before Lehigh Township or its weed ordinance existed.

117 comments:

Anonymous said...

What this man is doing is wonderful. I hope he wins his appeal. I can only wish to have a garden like that, let alone grow edible items as such. Good luck Mr. Hirsh!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

He is a walking encyclopedia of plant knowledge. Did you know that pink lemonade originally was made with staghorm sumac? I learned that today from Mr. Hirsch, who should be teaching at PSU.

Anonymous said...

There will be an opening at the Community College.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Nicely played.

Anonymous said...

People like to make everything about labels and Parties. I say that because I am a Democrat and this is just stupid runaway government.

Some people just don't have enough to do with out sticking their nose in someone else's business.

I wonder if there are extenuating circumstances. It is hard to imagine that of all places, Lehigh Township would find a violation in a man who uses his front yard as a garden. Why don't they clean up the abandoned house trailers that litter their township?

Good Grief.

Please Bernie, I want people to know that stupid power hungry pols can happen at all levels. I need to know if the Supervisors are all Dem's or Repub's or both.

It isn't the Party its the people. Stupid waste of governmental resources.

Dandelions Are Edible Plants said...

From a superficial view, Hirsch's front yard does look neglected.

His front yard doesn't look "pretty." This is the real reason behind somebody having a hard-on about the yard and if Hirsch's yard is in fact weeded, Judge Hawke made his decision on aesthetics, rather than following the letter of the law.

Poor Mr. Hirsch probably won't be weed free even should he win his appeal. My bet is that Lehigh Township will try to enact an ordinance prohibiting vegetable gardens in front yards.

Anonymous said...

Only in america....land of the free

monkey momma said...

He seems like an interesting and sweet man. But, he doesn't live on a farm. He's in a development, right? Frankly, I can understand the neighbors being upset about this. If manicured lawns aren't his thing, then he doesn't belong in a development where conformity is the norm.

Anonymous said...

And you wonder why people are getting fed up with the government and the governmental control on everything we do.

Guy is trying to feed his kids and the lehigh county busy bodies are telling him they rather have them go hungry and have grass in his front yard than have that garden.

Anonymous said...

Obviously he has not planted weeds on his property but crops. At a loss to understand why the Zoning person classified the vegetation as weeds when it is stuff he eats!! This is the problem with local government. People with little knowledge are given power that can literally wreck a person both emotionally and financially. I find it also amazing that the District Judge supported the violation! If the man had morning glory, poison ivy, dandelions and the like growing all over his property greater than six inches high, then he is in violation.. but crops? Really? The Township Supervisors need to look into this one and determine whether its staff is doing the right thing. Hoping this is not one of those I don't want to get into the middle of a neighborhood spat and let the judge decided cases! If it is that is not right.

Anonymous said...

Technically dandilions,clover, and many types of grasses are edible and can be used to make tea, herbal supplements and the like. So if his neighbors are complaining about his organic garden of Eden, they should look at their own chemically infused front yard salad! Well done Mr Hirsch! Well done!

Karl Hirsch said...

Bernie,

I sincerely appreciate you writing the article !

Monkey mamma, if I where in a "development" I would understand and follow the policies inherent in living in one. In this circumstance though I live in a regular house on property that is zoned rural !

Thank you to every one who has expressed support ! I hope I can return the favor to others in the future who find themselves in a similar situation.

Karl Hirsch

Karl Hirsch said...

Yes, my neighbors can spray poison with impunity next to my garden to rid their personal desert of any dandelions (these are not native, they where brought on purpose by our forefathers as a valuable source of food and medicine). Yes, some of that poison will eventually end up in both of our wells, and our children will get to enjoy all of the benefits.

And before the comment comes, no I am not allowing dandelions or other "commonly accepted weeds" to grow on my property, even though they may be a benefit to me and my family.

monkey momma said...

OK, if it's not a development and it's zoned rural, then I can see how this would possibly be acceptable. I was picturing this happening in an actual development. But I just noticed the bait shop that appears to be next door, and that also would be unacceptable in a neighborhood like mine. So I stand corrected - I did not realize this was a rural area by definition.

This is an interesting case, especially since the crop doesn't, by definition, violate the weed ordinance.

Anonymous said...

6:17

It's Lehigh Township. Your comment implies that county officials have some input here or are behind the decision, and that's not the case.

It's a township, not county, issue.

Karl Hirsch said...

Yes, that is true, it is Lehigh Township, in Northampton County, not Lehigh County :-)

Karl Hirsch said...

It is funny that a commenter mentioned Poison Ivy, since the neighbor who filed the complaint has allowed poison ivy to grow on their property since they arrived two years ago, and it continues to this day to intrude into my property. I am sure the images I captured of this in addition to the foot high grass growing in their front yard, plus the huge (8' x 12') patch of 6' high weeds and the dilapidated building in the back surrounded by weeds, debris and assorted junk would reflect on the judgement of the complainant. I just wish they where mature enough to speak with me personally about their problem with my gardens before involving the township. I still hope they will reconsider and speak with me, so we can work it out between us from here on.

C said...

I hope they work it out. I have a great deal of respect for our zoning officer who is simply responding to a complaint and doing her job. I'm sure she is not enjoying this one. I'm a little surprised about this, Lehigh Township is pretty much a live and let live township.

Rhonda Noel said...

Why is the government allowed to tell us what we can and cannot do on our own property? It is not like he is in an HOA or a development. He is providing food for his family!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I need to know if the Supervisors are all Dem's or Repub's or both."

This is a decision of the zoning officer. I doubt Supervisors even knew about it in advance. And that is as it should be. A zoning officer must be able to operate independently. I am relatively certain that Lehigh's Supervisors are ALL R.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Judge Hawke made his decision on aesthetics, rather than following the letter of the law."

I believe you are correct. The neighbor who complained did not show up. The judge asked to see a picture and, looking at it, told Hirsch, "You're guilty."

C said...

Lehigh supervisors 4 R's and one D, a Blue Dog. Lehigh is a very conservative township.

Bernie O'Hare said...

". He's in a development, right? Frankly, I can understand the neighbors being upset about this. If manicured lawns aren't his thing, then he doesn't belong in a development where conformity is the norm."

According to the county web page, the area is zoned residential, but it is a rural area. Only one neighbor has complained. She never spoke to Mr. Hirsch to make her concerns known. She did mention the sunflowers made it difficult for her to see traffic, and Hirsch obliged her by cutting them down.

c said...

In the Pacific Northwest, Washington, Alaska and Oregon this is actually quite common. I feel for this guy....our food is unhealthy.

Anonymous said...

I feel for the guy and absolutely endorse his attempt at growing real food for his family.

That being said, zoning rules are there for a reason and someone must have complained. Gardens are for backyards and should not negatively effect someone else's suburban property value. Planting a mammoth garden in the FRONT yard is indeed flouting the law. Any sensible person knows that is going to piss off the neighbors.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks C, for correcting me. I knew it was very conservative.

Anonymous said...

People like to make everything about labels and Parties. I say that because I am a Democrat and this is just stupid runaway government.


These things are almost always initiated by citizen complaints. Don't blame the government for doing its job.

Anonymous said...

And you wonder why people are getting fed up with the government and the governmental control on everything we do.

Get a clue. Another genius.

Government (that pesky dirty word you let drool from your mouth) doesn't do these things for pleasure. They do them because the citizens demand them.

I'm starting to accept the fact that Americans are completely losing touch with any intellectual capability whatsoever and have just let Fox News brow beat them with nonsense.

Anonymous said...

If the plant is neither grass nor weed, how do you apply the ordinance to the situation?

If I wanted to plant my entire front yard full of corn, am I in violation of the ordinance?

Bernie O'Hare said...

The way I read it, no.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"These things are almost always initiated by citizen complaints. Don't blame the government for doing its job."

In this case, the matter was initiated by a citizen complaint.

c said...

10:01 Corn is a grass, as long as it doesn't grow longer than 6" you are OK. Might I suggest baby corn?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"10:01 Corn is a grass, as long as it doesn't grow longer than 6" you are OK. Might I suggest baby corn?"

But it is edible. Look at the weed ordinance.

Bernie O'Hare said...

For the sake of my readers, Lehiogh Tp's weed ordinance defines weeds as follows:

"Includes all rank vegetable growth including, but not limited to, grass, ragweed, dandelion and miscellaneous other vegetation commonly referred to as "weeds" or "brush" which are not edible or planted for some useful or ornamental purpose and which exhale unpleasant or noxious odors or pollen, or which may conceal filthy deposits or serve as breeding places for mosquitoes, other insects or vermin."

The ordinance also provides,

"A. No person owning, holding, or in possession of any real estate shall allow or maintain on any lot or tract of land within the boundary of the Township of Lehigh any growth of weeds or grass to a height of over six inches. Such growth of weeds is hereby declared to be a nuisance, injurious to the health, cleanliness, comfort, and safety of the residents of the Township."

http://ecode360.com/13033341

Anonymous said...

Sentence where this person will lose:

"or which may conceal filthy deposits or serve as breeding places for mosquitoes, other insects or vermin."

Bernie O'Hare said...

True, but only if the vegetation is inedible. This is edible vegetation. It must be inedible AND a breeding ground for insects, etc. Plus, I think Hirsch would argue that his garden is no breeding ground. It might draw more insects, but not mosquitoes. it will not draw vermin if he attends it, as he seems to do. I think he has a winner.

Karl Hirsch said...

I believe it would only be flouting the law, IF the law said, no edible plants (crops) in the front yard, which it does not. If it upset my neighbors due to their personal preferences that has nothing to do with the law as I understand it.

Also the owner never brought any concerns to me personally. Her mother mentioned the sunflowers last year, and when I attempted to speak with the owner regarding changes I had made to improve her view, she would not even answer the door. This year, not a word from either of them, just a letter in the mail from the zoning officer.

I have always tried my best to be considerate of everybody I meet, but I should not have to sacrifice the security of my family to satisfy somebody else's desire to live in a community where grass and nothing else is mandated.

Clinton Oxford said...

Taraxacum officinale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The plant has several culinary and medicinal uses. The specific name officinalis refers to its value as a medicinal herb, and is derived from the word opificina, later officina, meaning a workshop or pharmacy. The flowers are used to make dandelion wine, the greens are used in salads, the roots have been used to make a coffee substitute (when baked and ground into powder) and the plant was used by Native Americans as a food and medicine.
Dandelions are wildcrafted or grown on a small scale as a leaf vegetable. The leaves (called dandelion greens) can be eaten cooked or raw in various forms, such as in soup or salad. They are probably closest in character to mustard greens. Usually the young leaves and unopened buds are eaten raw in salads, while older leaves are cooked. Raw leaves have a slightly bitter taste. Dandelion salad is often accompanied with hard boiled eggs. The leaves are high in vitamin A, vitamin C and iron, carrying more iron and calcium than spinach.

Erik Garces said...

I'm a distant neighbor of Mr. Hirsch and familiar with the issue. Mr. Hirsch tells me that the Zoning Officer had spoken to him prior to filing with the court. His efforts to comply with her demands included removal of some crops and the cutting of others. Subsequently, Mr. Hirsch contacted Ms. Harrier to inform her of the changes he made.

Karl called Ms. Harrier and let her know he had performed the work required, and she told him not to worry about it. After making this statement, Ms. Harrier without following up and verifying Mr. Hirsch's response, simply filed charges with the district court. When Karl asked her about this, he says Ms. Harrier response was that she was too busy to come by and see.

Evidently, she hadn't the time to simply drive past the property and peek out the window but she did have time enough to go in person to the Magistrate's office on 248 and file paperwork... Where, during the hearing Ms. Harrier showed the District Judge a photo of the landscape prior to the changes made by Mr. Hirsch.

I was absolutely not a fan of Judge Hawke when he was a Moore Township police officer. Judging by this knee jerk response to Ms. Harrier's claims, his lack of concern over the rights of a property owner, or for due process - don't waste your time in this judge's court room. Just go straight to the Court of Common Pleas in Easton.

Anonymous said...

@9:42

The guy is growing FOOD for his family. Something that generations before him did, without governmental intervention on behalf of busy bodies who should mind their own business.

This guy is what more Americans should be doing in these hard economic times. Instead of relying on government, he is handling it himself and taking care of his own through his own abilities.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Erik, I have called Ms. Harrier to determine why she cited him.

Anonymous said...

"But according to Lehigh Township Zoning Officer Laura Harrier, Hirsch is a nuisance in violation of Lehigh Township's weed ordinance. That local law prohibits any growth of grass or weeds over six inches high. Interestingly, the Township ordinance defines weeds as inedible plants."

2012 Pennsylvania Code
Title 3 - AGRICULTURE
Chapter 3 - Local Regulation
Section 315 - Right of action

§ 315. Right of action.

(a) Attorney General action.--The Attorney General may bring an action against the local government unit in Commonwealth Court to invalidate the unauthorized local ordinance or enjoin the enforcement of the unauthorized local ordinance.

(b) Other party action.--Notwithstanding any provision of 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 85 Subch. C (relating to actions against local parties), any person who is aggrieved by the enactment or enforcement of an unauthorized local ordinance may bring an action against the local government unit in Commonwealth Court to invalidate the unauthorized local ordinance or enjoin the enforcement of the unauthorized local ordinance.

This Zoning Officer may have picked a losing battle.

Clinton Oxford said...

"Subsistence agriculture is a labor-intensive method of cultivating food crops, which is sufficient for the farmer and his family. The production is done on a small scale which is adequate to feed a small population. Self-sufficiency is primarily focused in subsistence farming, due to which surplus food is reduced. An entire family or a small society depends on subsistence farming for their livelihood. In many parts of the world like Africa, Indonesia, Latin America, south and east Asia and some isolated areas, subsistence farming is prevalent and the people feed themselves and their family, by cultivating food crops on their own fields."

Anonymous said...

"Therefore, one could say that at a permaculture farm, there are several goals to for these food forests to achieve, including: producing food, producing forage for insects such pollinators, for chicken and for mocking birds.

The most part of these food forests are planted with local apricots, cherries, plums, pears, some going back to very old times, in fact. For the creation of guilds, one can maintain a so-called nursery garden, in which the plants are first grown to be then divided, or where one can harvest seeds from. The so-called "guilds" is a combination of insects, animals, plants and mushrooms."

Anonymous said...

Both the zoning officer and magistrate Hawke need to be fired. ASAP

Another injustice to the common man

Chris Amato said...

Erik,

If Ms. Harrier gave Mr. Hirsch a bullet list of things to do and he complied, then enough said. I had the honor of serving as a Township Supervisor years ago and you will not find a more committed and fair zoning officer. She is a woman of her word who looks to curtail problems before they go before a judge. As in any situation like this there is probably a lot more going on than you or I are aware of. Ms. Harrier did not create this situation. I think that what Mr. Hirsch is a good thing and I hope he finds a way to continue in a fashion that is acceptable to all parties.

Anonymous said...

How could Conservative Republicans do such a thing? I thought they hated government.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Chris, I have both telephoned and emailed Ms. Harrier about why Hirsch seems to have been ... harried. I know there are about 14,000 sides to every story, and await a response.

Chris Amato said...

She may not be allowed to speak about the issue because legal action/an appeal is involved.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I suspect you are right, Chris.

Karl Hirsch said...

To clarify what Erik had said earlier... I contacted Mrs Harrier the day before the deadline on the notice. She told me at that time that she would come by to verify everything was OK the next day. I told her at that time, that I would be home and she was welcome to stop and discuss anything she felt still did not meet her approval with me. She assured me that since I was being proactive in contacting her, she would not send anything to the DJ until she spoke with me. When I received the notice from the DJ about two weeks later, I called to speak with her and asked why she did not stop to talk with me or call me before proceeding to involve the DJ. Her response was that she just got home from two weeks vacation and did not have time for a "courtesy call".

Chris Miller said...

Bernie
We need to round up the folks who can come to Hirsch gardens for vegetable. What do we need a couple hundred on a Saturday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris,

Why not speak tot he Republicans that run the Township?

Anonymous said...

Mr Hirsch should receive a government subsidy for growing and feeding his family healthy foods which cut down on health care costs. He has his own supplemental nutrition program growing in his yard for Pennies on the dollar. He looks healthier than most of the kids attending ASD. I don't have much but I would contribute to a defense fund for Mr Hirsch

C.A. said...

That could work. I personally think Mr. Hirsch is ahead of the curve, but again I don't know all sides of the story.

Anonymous said...

He needs a go fund me account

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hirsh'

I like what you are doing. I plant the regular vegetables most people plant. Would you mind posting a list of the different plants you have planted. I would be interested in planting some next season.

Thanks,

Joe R.

Anonymous said...

The other side of the story is some so called neighbor who has nothing to occupy her time. I wouldn't have cut down any plants especially sunflower plants which attract honey bees and birds. Imagine telling our founding fathers they couldn't grow vegetables in front of their house.

Anonymous said...

Next thing you know, this radical will want to buy wine in a Supermarket and some statist do-gooder with too many demons will be there to make his adult decisions for him.

Anonymous said...

Imagine telling our founding fathers you can't own slaves. Some people just don't respect the American way.

Karl Hirsch said...

Hi Joe R,

I would love to share some of the great varieties I have cultivated with you ! to be honest a full listing would take some space, but some of the standouts most have never heard of would be the Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes), Heirloom purple Gooseberries, Garden Huckleberries, Black/Red/White Currants, Pawpaws, Ground Cherries (These are my daughter Anna's favorite) taste like pineapple, Blackberries, Everbearing pink Raspberries, Black Raspberries, Wineberries, Heirloom Potato Onions, Egyptian Walking onions, Korean Licorice Mint, my wife's great grandmother's Apple Mint and Chinese lanterns. I am sure there are a lot I missed, but you are welcome to email me and come by some time if you like.

Thanks to you and all of the posters here for their support and especially Bernie. It means a lot to me and my family.

Anonymous said...

Yes, comparing gardening to slavery is the dumbest comment ever offered on any blog since Al Gore invented the Internet. Mark the time and date.

Matt M. said...

How would something like this compare to having chickens? That seems to be all the rage out here in Lehigh Township over the past few years. I find Mr. Hirsch's landscape much more appealing than a screaming rooster at 4am, with the stink that comes from chicken coops not maintained.

And before I get anonymous attacks about heritage and farming, these are people who have single family homes in residential developments. I'm all for it IF you get the appropriate zoning and permits. That's why we have such processes in place. What he is doing is no different than what I have in front of my own house, and I wouldn't eat my rose-bushes or my hostas...

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't care for any animal that makes noise in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Imagine fighting a civil war to grow vegetables in your front yard. Some people just don't respect the freedoms we fought for

Anonymous said...

Of course Hawke found him guilty. He is a hack who only thinks about maintaining his job. Reelection time can't come soon enough.

Anonymous said...

At 9:37
" Gardens are for backyards."
Your a dummy. A fool.

God bless this guy.
Live free or die.

Adam said...

What an inspiration. I live in a development in Allentownship. No lawn either. What the critics don't realize what an asset these gardens are for the eco system and water table. No pesticides or chemicals as well as less run off.
I am a register landscape architect. What he had done is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I have always tried my best to be considerate of everybody I meet, but I should not have to sacrifice the security of my family to satisfy somebody else's desire to live in a community where grass and nothing else is mandated.

So why not plant your garden in the back yard?

Anonymous said...

Chris, I have both telephoned and emailed Ms. Harrier about why Hirsch seems to have been ... harried. I know there are about 14,000 sides to every story, and await a response.

One side of the story sorely lacking are better photos of the property in question and how it relates to the neighbors on all sides.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hirsch does have a garden in his back yard, too. But he told me on Sunday that the garden in the front yard is much better bc it has a southern exposure. There are things that grow there that won't grow in the back yard .

Bernie O'Hare said...

Excuse me? I have three photos, and one makes very ear that this is no typical yard. I think what you are saying is that you'd like to see more unsightly pictures bc you have decided this is a nuisance.

Anonymous said...

OK, I thought this might be the case. If you zoom in on Google maps on Church Road, you can clearly see this property. And you can clearly see the extremely large "green desert" in the gentleman's BACK yard. Most considerate people would plant in the back yard given the ample space and the close proximity of the neighbors.

I'm all for self sustainment and eating vegetables but I'm also for common sense consideration of the people around you. And to tell you the truth, I don't blame the woman for being a bit apprehensive about dealing with someone who is attempting to pull some sort of property rights stunt.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me? I have three photos, and one makes very ear that this is no typical yard. I think what you are saying is that you'd like to see more unsightly pictures bc you have decided this is a nuisance.

No, I was hoping to see the vast BACK yard which I found on my own. And it's total bullshit that the giant back yard is incapable of receiving the same sun as the front.

I've seen these stories many times and it's almost always about some challenge to the zoning.

Anonymous said...

Does this person support Ron Paul, by chance?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Who this person supports or does not support is irrelevant to this matter. If you use google maps to look at this property, and i never listed Hirsch's exact address, the overhead view is quite deceptive. Even the front yard does not look like a garden. You sound like a person with some kind of personal agenda.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you about my agenda:

I believe zoning exists for a reason. I believe that gardens in the front yard are prohibited for a reason. I believe that people purposefully irritating their neighbors with front yard gardens have an agenda and it's usually having to do with property rights by a libertarian or other anti-government crusader.

Obviously, this might not be the case here, but it is difficult to tell if you are unwilling to explore the other side of the issue.

A cursory search will reveal that front yard garden controversies are nothing new. If this person did not have neighbors immediately adjacent to his property, I could not care less. But it's obvious that the neighbors are almost an arms length away.

Despite what posters here are yelping, its all about property rights until one of these properties is next to you.

Anonymous said...

After studying the area a bit more, I'd have to ultimately side with the property owner on this one. The area in which he lives is almost all open space and neighbors should not have an expectation of suburbia. Most of the other cases, if not all, involve front yard gardens in residential neighborhoods.

The part of the ordinance about vermin does stick out though. The garden undoubtedly attracts mice and other rodents.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If gardens in a front yard were prohibited, you'd have a point. But there is no ordinance banning front yard gardens. Hirsch was cited under a weed ordinance, and the vegetation there clearly is not weeds.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I doubt his front yard attracts any more vermin than the untended tract across the street.

Anonymous said...

There is almost never a "front yard garden" ordinance. It always comes down to weeds or vermin or height prohibitions. PRobably because most people simply would not plant a garden covering their entire front yard.

Anonymous said...

I doubt his front yard attracts any more vermin than the untended tract across the street.


However, the tract across the street does not border the neighbor's property. Property rights are all well and good until you infringe on the rights of others - this includes things like property value.

Clinton Oxford said...

Wasn't the original issue an impedence of view for a driveway egress? That is a very common problem with growing landscape. Good neighbor's handle it between themselve's & simply trim the offending outgrowth. Mr. Hirsch completed all that was required of him. The Zoning Officer appear's remiss in her Duties in not verifying compliance with her directive, in a timely fashion. Dereliction of Duty & Malfeasance in Office!

Anonymous said...

It does not sound as if that visual obstruction was what was reported to the zoning officer. It was the overall nature of what was done in the front yard in which the zoning officer and the judge seemed to believe had merit.

And you have no idea what this person is like or what his relationship is with his neighbors. You have one side of the story here (not that this person does not appear to be an upstanding citizen).

Karl Hirsch said...

What is almost comedic about the mice/vermin concern is that my wife suggested the catnip I had planted to help keep mice away (well known fact mice and rodents avoid places where catnip grows), looked "weedy" and perhaps I should sacrifice all of it growing in the front to help alleviate the situation. I did do that... Also, I am sure the peppermint growing in the front looks "weedy" to those who do not know plants, but it also is a well know mice repellent to have in your garden. Oh well !

Also, as far as my back yard, I do have a large patch of grass back there for my children to play. I don't suppose the person pointing that put would prefer I have my 4 children play out front next to street eh ? Also, I only own 1/3 of an acre. On google maps it can appear as if my property extends to the farm field in the back, but from the tree line to the field is my neighbors. The patch of lawn in my back yard is probably 100' x 25', I think the kids are worth that sacrifice.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I pretty much do only have his side of the story. I attempted to find the next door neighbor. No luck. I attempted contact with the zoning officer, who probably can't talk about the matter. I do know this. Sometimes, there is only one side to a story.

Anonymous said...

Karl - I hardly find it comedic if you agree that vermin is a concern. That is right in the ordinance. You've admitted that vermin can be a problem and your attempts at mitigation have no bearing on the situation. The situation is that you have a potential for vermin and you have it in close proximity to your neighbor's home. It is indeed nice to grow food for your family but sometimes we are limited in our freedoms by the property we choose to purchase and inhabit. This is clear by the choice between a play area for your children vs an area to grow food. You've chosen an option that at least one neighbor has an issue with. That sucks but this is what we deal with in society - your rights infringing on the rights of others.

I said earlier I'm on your side on this one because I believe the area you live in is clearly agricultural. Good luck.

Karl Hirsch said...

Vermin are a concern for any thinking person regardless of the layout of their property. So I hardly see how planting varieties specifically to keep rodents, which there are many across the street, away from my property is an admission of a vermin issue. There is and never has been a vermin issue on my property and the varieties chosen where to keep it that way. Even if I was not cultivating crops, the mint would have been chosen for the aforesaid location and reason. I appreciate your support anonymous !

Karl Hirsch said...

Matt M.

Hostas are edible by humans and are called "urui" in Japanese cuisine. Rose Hips are also edible and highly nutritious. One ounce will provide you with almost double the daily vitamin C intake recommended for the average adult. They have been used by humans as a food stuff and medicine since at least the ancient roman time. Once you become aware of plants and there uses, you will be amazed at how much food and medicine is right in your own back/front yard, unless it's all grass that is.

Matt M. said...

Karl,
Thank you for the learning expierence!

Anonymous said...

The ACA is way off topic, "Anonymous", but I found out insurance will cost me an affordable $800 per year after a premium rebate because of my income. Up for some, down for others.

Bernie O'Hare said...

deleted the OT comments that attempted to politicize this issue.

Clinton Oxford said...

I would recommend an "Olde Fashion Shit Fight"! If the Zoning Officer was remiss in her Duties, then, She must be relieved of Duty!

Anonymous said...

We dont need another Ross Twp. incident!

Anonymous said...

As a person who had dandelion greens with dinner, I really appreciate Karl's sensibilities (even if he doesn't do dandelions). Neighbors totally need to get over it--it's NOT their property, and I truly don't see how it affects them in any way, especially after he cut the sunflowers they claimed were blocking their view.

And if anyone wants to bring up the property value issue, well, gardens aren't really permanent. The next owner could plant grass or hedges or whatever. If anything, the front yard garden ADDS to the value of neighboring homes in the context of soil erosion and runoff issues being mitigated.

Seriously, I can't believe not only how petty some people are, but how far away they've gotten from the land and where food comes from...

Karl, fight the good fight. I sincerely hope you win this.

Concerned Citizen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Clinton Oxford said...

Does Mr. Hirsch's appeal involve a Trial De Novo?

Bernie O'Hare said...

yes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Concerned Citizen, Don not list a person's residential address here. No need to be creepy.

Anonymous said...

Sensorship. No freedom of speech here!

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's called censorship, and i am not going to allow you to post the home address and family members of a public employee here. Would you want that done to you or someone you care about?

Clinton Oxford said...

Based on the one sided story represented here....I would be willing to remove this Zoning Officer from Office.

Anonymous said...

God made a Farmer's Wife

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQknnkXsRjI

Anonymous said...

You removed other comments that did not include personal information
CENSORSHIP!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the earlier post about property value. Property value is the price someone is willing to pay for a house based on many factors, one of which is the neighborhood and adjoining properties. It's very psychological and to say that a certain property would have no effect on the price of another property is naive. Many people would see that lawn and find it a little nutty - unfortunately, buyers don't get to know the people before they buy, it's all done on appearances.

That being said, it appears to be an agricultural area so anyone looking to buy there probably wouldn't mind.

And to the fools harassing and threatening the zoning officer, get a life. This person has a job and that is to respond to citizen complaints. He/she has a job just like you (perhaps you have a job) abd probably does it to the best of his/her ability. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

This is all about control, if you are able to cultivate food and medicinal plants you can feed yourself and be less reliant on the is system, which authoratians dislike. You must be beholden to the big brother for every scrap of GMO food you eat and every breath of toxic air you breathe. Remember we have been taken over by socialists who don't want you to be independent

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think Mr. Hirsch is too busy growing food to be reading Ayn Rand.

Anonymous said...

Poor Mr. Hirsch just wants to have his garden. Now the teabaggers want to make him their poster child.

Doesn't' he have enough problems?

Adam Lewczenko said...

I just met Karl this past week, and met with him at his home yesterday to do a job with him in the afternoon. As I pulled in the drive way, what was Karl doing? Maintaining his garden. All you need is five minutes with the man to see that all he wants to do is provide the healthiest, organic food for his family. Its obvious the pride he has in doing so. The knowledge he has of everything in his garden is never ending. Karl is a hippy in the best way possible. There is not a confrontational bone in his body, and he is willing to share what he has with others. I have a huge respect for him and how he provides for his family, on his own land, with his own hands, dripping his own sweat. He is doing what any self respecting man should do for his family. The American Dream. Its a shame that people want to take that away from him.

Anonymous said...

To all those questioning the "photos" of why the yard was called into question regarding a garden in the front yard... There has been a photo submitted to Mr. O'hare that was taken after township intervention and fairly close to the magistrate hearings. The front yard looks tremendously different now... Could it be coincidence that the yard has been drastically cleaned up before media was contacted

Bernie O'Hare said...

Next door neighbor Jennifer posted the above comment. I see no difference between the photo she sent me and the others I posted. She objected to my photo bc it included a sign enabling someone to identify her property. I blurred out the sign language and then she sends me a photo of the sign to post. She wants me to do a new story stating she was concerned about safety. I will do a story when this case is heard in court. She also wanted me to arrange a meeting between her and her next door neighbor, but I won't do that. She attempted to make that a condition of her giving me a statement, but I decline to bargain with her. Now she comments anonymously , when she really should identify herself as an interested party, like Mr. Hirsch did.

Anonymous said...

One thought.... Thank you mrs. Roosevelt..... Great minds discuss ideas... Average minds discuss events... Small minds discuss people...

Anonymous said...

these pictures are very misleading I know this house well you need to drive by and look at the whole thing it's a dump I wouldn't want to live next to it

Anonymous said...

you should see the dump he has running up to the side of his yard then tell me how well done it is

Anonymous said...

I have seen your house several times and it is a hot mess cleaned it up

Anonymous said...

A lot of people are complaining that he doesn't do all of his gardening in his back yard though he has children. So let's think this through:
Back yard ... All garden?
Front yard ... Where the kids play? Great! Now you don't have anything to deal with other than the potential for kids running into the street or abduction and creepers ...

But hey, I doubt that Bernie would jeopardize his reputation over a story like this and not post the other side. He said he attempted to reach out as well as Karl saying the same thing. Some people are cowardly and can't face the music so they have someone else do their dirty work.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The above comment is posted by Hirsch's next neighbor, who apparently thinks she owns his land.