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Zephyrhills officials pave the way for community gardening

ZEPHYRHILLS — The city's sustainability plan touts community gardens as one avenue leading to a greener community.

Now the City Council is making it happen. On Monday evening, the council unanimously passed the first reading of an ordinance that amends the city's zoning laws, allowing for the creation and maintenance of community gardens anywhere in the city — except the airport.

"I think this is great," said council member Lance Smith. "Growing up, everyone had one, but it was out of necessity."

City planner Todd Van de Berg and Tammy Vrana, the consultant who produced the sustainability plan, pointed out several benefits to community gardens. They attract folks of all ages and backgrounds, working together to produce crops of fresh food.

The educational benefits to young people who think grocery stores are responsible for much of the food they eat are incalculable, said Vrana.

Plus, it's fun.

"It's for everybody," said Vrana. "You can look at all parts of a community and find people that are interested in playing in the dirt."

The ordinance lays out a few ground rules: No gardening before sunup or after sundown, put away all tools and supplies each day, and do your best to stay organic by avoiding pesticides and other chemicals.

"Tonight, we're taking a baby step," said Van de Berg. "We'll start with the ordinance, then we'll start looking for locations."

The ordinance has no impact on individual private gardens, Van de Berg added.

When the time comes, the city will seek guidance on promoting the gardening endeavors of those who have gone before, like the cities of Temple Terrace and Safety Harbor, he said.

The measure will come back to City Council for a final vote April 8.

>>In other business

Library contract approved

The Zephyrhills City Council okayed a contract with A.D. Morgan Corp. for the $1.5 million new library project. The council chose the Tampa firm in January to be the general contractor and construction manager for the project, which will involve building a new facility adjacent to the current library on Eighth Street just north of Fifth Avenue. The new library is expected to be ready for business by summer 2014.

Zephyrhills officials pave the way for community gardening 03/26/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 8:25pm]
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