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Town’s new zoning law limits lawn options

Owning real estate in South Florida allows people a certain amount of freedom from the restrictions that typically attend leasing a home. However, just because they do not have a landlord imposing rules about what they may or may not do with the property, they are not necessarily without limits. Municipalities and communities have some rights to impose their own regulations and ordinances setting constraints on what is permissible within their borders.

The town of Miami Shores has enacted a new zoning law on the composition of residents’ front yards, to ensure that the neighborhoods are visually appealing and consistent. The new law limits homeowners’ choices for their front area to live ground cover, sod or grass.

The new rule is under attack from a couple who believe they should be allowed to grow vegetables in their front yard. After they were told they had to pay $50 a day as a fine for violating the new law, they modified their yard. Now, they have filed litigation against the town, saying that their private property rights as defined in the Florida Constitution have been violated. The couple’s front yard garden had produced 75 different types of vegetables with organic procedures in the past 17 years.

Any time a city, town or neighborhood places restrictions on private property, the regulations must meet all of the guidelines in the Florida statutes, but determining the legal interpretations of these may be complex. An attorney who is familiar with residential property disputes and zoning laws may be able to assist homeowners who believe that their rights have been violated.

Source: Fox News, “Florida couple sues after town bans front-yard gardens,” June 9, 2016

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