West Des Moines Council Drops Plans for Veggie Ban

Drew Jensen, a second grader at Hiawatha Elementary weeds his classes garden, prior to a visit from representatives of the ISU Extension of master gardeners and USDA visit Hiawatha Elementary on Wednesday, May, 9, 2012, in Hiawatha, Iowa. Hiawatha is involved in a pilot project which incorporates gardening into the curriculum, where children in second and fourth grades learn about nutrition and healthy choices throughout their classroom studies. Linn County Master Gardeners help the students in their outdoor gardens. The project is funded by the UDAA. Iowa is one of four states involved in the project. (Nikole Hanna/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Ellen Kurt

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — West Des Moines' mayor said Thursday that city officials are dropping plans to consider banning residents from planting fruits and vegetables in their front yards.

Mayor Steve Gaer said a resident who initially brought the issue to the West Des Moines City Council has withdrawn his complaint. The council then decided not to move forward with any action, the Des Moines Register reported.

"I spoke with all the council members and we all agreed that because we don't have any problems at this time we're going to drop it," he said.

Gaer also said residents had recently expressed concern that such a ban would infringe on their rights as property owners.

The initial resident complained last fall about his neighbor's front yard gardens. A council code enforcement subcommittee, which meets quarterly, reviewed a proposal stemming from that complaint Wednesday.

"What's to prevent them or anyone else now from, this spring, bulldozing their entire front yard and planting a garden?" resident Donald McNutt told the subcommittee Wednesday. "If you don't have anything in your ordinance to prevent this, I could see that happening."

City council member Kevin Trevillyan said at the meeting he was uncomfortable pursuing the ban.

"I understand your concern and frustrations but I struggle with where do you draw the line on property owner rights that say here's what you can and can't do on your own property?" he said.

The subcommittee discussed plans to study the issue further and to come up with alternatives to a blanket ban, including size limitation and looking at similar ordinances in other cities. But the withdraw Thursday means they will not pursue it, Gaer said.

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