More than 30 supporters of New Port Richey’s “green” community were present on Tuesday night for City Councils’ second reading of two ordinances aimed at improving regulations and explicitly permitting urban agriculture, community gardens, and front yard gardens in New Port Richey. NewsPortRichey wrote an article last month during the first reading of the ordinances outlining the particulars and you can read that here. Dell deChant, the Chair of the City’s Environmental Committee, also wrote an opinion article on why the ordinances should be approved. That article also ran in the Tampa Bay Times.
City Councilors on Tuesday acknowledged that the two ordinances had been on their agenda and the Environmental Committee’s checklist for many years, since 2013. The ordinance does not make any gardening practices legal that were previously illegal, but rather outlines a process for permitting and official sanctioning of community gardens and household gardens. Some critics at the first reading of the ordinances, as well as some of the City Councilors, voiced opposition citing issues with home values and unsightly gardens, but supporters of the ordinances pointed out, correctly, that those issues were almost exclusively covered by other areas of the City’s code. Those issues would appropriately be dealt with by the City’s code enforcement.
In the end, the City Council voted unanimously to pass both the urban agriculture ordinance as well as a companion ordinance that amended the City’s comprehensive plan. The second ordinance had received state approval last week. Before voting for the ordinance, some of the Council members voiced concerns with how the program would be managed and yards would be maintained. Councilman Bill Phillips called on the City’s Environmental Committee to be vigilant in tracking the City’s approved gardens, one of the Committee’s new duties. “If there are problems,” Phillips said, “I want them addressed quickly.”