J-town votes to make man clean up his 'diverse' garden

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by Alex Schuman

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 11:32 PM

 JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. (WHAS11)-- A family took a piece of land they considered run down, and started a garden.  They filled it with different prairie grasses and wild flowers and wanted them to grow naturally.  

 
Now, Jeffersontown residents said those plants are causing problems for the neighbors and the size of the plants violate city code.
 
You do not hear a lot of people raise their voice when talking about a garden, but a plot of land in Jeffersontown is a problem for several who live next door.
 
"We have mosquitoes, snakes, skunks, rats, rabbits,” a neighbor said at a meeting about the garden. “You name it, we've had it.  And he has not taken care of that property.”
 
Where the neighbors see overgrown plants Dr. David Sangster sees beauty.
 
"I think we need gardens that are more diverse," Sangster said. 
 
His family spent nine thousand dollars in 2009 to have a professional company plant wildflowers and plants native to the area so his sister, who at the time lived directly in front of the land, could have a large garden that grew naturally.
 
"He has not taken care of that property," another neighbor said at the meeting. 
 
Sangster's sister moved away.  No one from his family actually lives next to the garden.  He and his mother travel to the land every-so-often to sit and relax.  
 
Neighbors, however, complained to city.  One of J-town's ordinance's does allow for any plant growth above 10 inches right up to the back of a residential property.
 
"Being cultivated - to me that means that if you wanted flowers and plants that would be planted in certain areas, and kept there not just to grow willy-nilly throughout the area," a neighbor of Sangster said of the garden. 
 
Sangster argued his case for a little less than an hour and made his points, but in the end they voted for him to clean-up his garden within the next 10 days or city staff will go in and destroy his plants to bring the plot of land up to code.  
 
He will not do so - and plans to keep on arguing.
 
"People have a right I think - a freedom of speech issue - to express themselves in many ways including gardening," Sangster said.
 

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