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Urban Ag: Cleveland Rocks

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Apr 05, 2011 at 23:58:14 PM PDT


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The best urban ag laws in the nation are in... Cleveland? I would have never guessed. But check out these incredible policies!

You can find their laws at the links, or check out my summary below:
Farm Animals and Bees
Agriculture in Residential Districts
Urban Garden Zoning District

Jill Richardson :: Urban Ag: Cleveland Rocks
Allowed Structures
The following structures are allowed: fences, sheds, greenhouses, coops, cages, beehives, hoophouses, cold frames, barns, rain barrels, composting, and farm stands.

A fence in a front yard or a side street yard must be four feet or shorter and must be ornamental or black or dark green, vinyl-coated chain link. A fence located elsewhere should not be taller than six feet and should be ornamental or chain link. Any area between a fence and a street line should be planted with grass or other vegetation.

Any structure for agricultural use other than a fence or a farm stand cannot be in a front yard or a side street yard or within 18 inches of your property line.

You need a building permit to build a barn or a fence, farm stand, "or other structure routinely requiring such permit." No permits are needed for cages, coops, or beehives or anything else smaller than 32 square feet and 8 feet high and not permanently attached to the ground.

Farm Stands
You are allowed to have a farm stand to sell produce, plants, eggs, and honey in a residential zone. You can only sell items grown or produced within 1000 feet of the property where you sell it IF agriculture is a principle use of the lot (occupies 75% of your property or at least 4000 square feet).

Prepared foods can be sold so long as the principal ingredients are grown on the property or within 1000 feet of it. (In other words, you can sell raspberry jam if you grew the raspberries, even though you didn't produce the sugar.)

Sales must be between 8am and dusk.

Food sales must be licensed by the Department of Public Health "if such licensing is required in the City's Codified Ordinances."

In One-Family or Two-Family Districts: You must remove your farm stand from your front yard during the time of year when it is not in use. Farm stands cannot occupy more than 2% of your land and they cannot be larger than 200 square feet. They must be 18 inches from your property line.

In order to have a farm stand, the Board of Zoning Appeals must determine through a public notice and public hearing that "the farm stand and sales will meet a community need without adversely affecting the neighborhood."

When agriculture is a principle use (i.e. occupies 75% of a property or at least 4000 square feet) of the lot, you can have one sign facing the street "identifying the agricultural use and listing hours of operations for market sales and contact information." The sign can be no more than four square feet, three feet in height, and must be five feet from your property line unless the sign is placed on a farm stand.

Composting and Misc
Composting: You can compost, but no odor, pest infestations, or run-off.

Agriculture can be a principle use of any vacant residential lot.

"Any land devoted to agricultural use shall be well-maintained and shall be free of excessively tall weeds or grass.  All accessory structures to an agricultural use shall also be well maintained."

Critters
Poultry and Rabbits
Chickens, ducks, rabbits, and "similar animals" are allowed in residential districts.  You can have 1 animal per 800 square feet of property (which means that residents in a typical lot can have six). The coop or cage can't be in the front yard or in a side yard on a street, and it must be 5 feet from the side yard lines or 18 inches from a rear yard line.

No roosters, geese, or turkeys UNLESS on lots of one acre or larger. You can have one of these animals if you have an acre, and an additional animal for each additional 24,000 square feet. The coop should be 100 feet from all property lines.

Poultry and rabbits must be in a "covered, predator-proof coop or cage or other shelter that is thoroughly ventilated, designed to be easily accessed and cleaned, and of sufficient size to permit free movement of the animals, exclusive of areas used for storage of materials or vehicles." The coop cannot be more than 32 square feet for up to six animals (which is totally reasonable) and cannot be more than 15 feet high.

Animals should also have access to an outdoor run area that is fenced off and safe from predators, providing at least 10 square feet per bird.

The same rules apply in non-residential areas, but there you can have one animal per 400 square feet.

Goats, Pigs, Sheep and Similar Animals
In residential districts, you must have 24,000 square feet (a little over half an acre) in order to keep goats, pigs, or sheep. You can have two animals for the first 24,000 square feet and one additional animal for each additional 2,400 square feet.

In non-residential districts, you can have two goats, pigs, or sheep for the first 14,400 square feet (1/3 of an acre) and one additional animal for each additional 1200 square feet.

The enclosure for the animal cannot be in your front yard, or on a side yard facing a street.

Bees
You can have one beehive for each 2,400 square feet of property. It must be 5 feet away from your property lines and 10 feet away from any dwelling. No beehives in the front yard or a side yard facing a street. The beehive entrance must face away from the property of your nearest neighbors.

Additionally, you must have a solid fence or dense hedge (a "flyway barrier") at least six feet high along the side of the beehive that contains the entrance. This must be within five feet of the beehive entrance and it must extend two feet on either side of the hive. The law allows for some exemptions for when this flyway barrier is needed. (Are there any beekeepers here that can tell me if this is really a necessity? Seems to me the bees would fly over it.)

You must keep a supply of fresh water for your bees to keep them from hanging out near your neighbors swimming pool or birdbath.

In non-residential districts, you can have one hive for each 1000 feet of property.

Last, no Africanized bees. (As if you want those anyway.)

Additional Laws
You can't keep your critters if they are a public nuisance or a public health or safety threat. You can slaughter chickens, ducks, rabbits, and "similar small animals" inside a garage or other building, but only for your own consumption. You must apply for a permit with the Department of Building and Housing AND with the Public Health Department. The latter gives you permits that last 2 years, so presumably you must re-apply every 2 years.

Urban Garden Zoning District
This was the first of Cleveland's urban ag laws, adopted in 2007. It established an "Urban Garden District" as part of the zoning code "to meet needs for local food production, community health, community education, garden-related job training, environmental enhancement, preservation of green space, and community enjoyment." (Wow!)

The following main uses are permitted in an Urban Garden District: community gardens and market gardens.

The following accessory uses and structures are allowed in an Urban Garden District:

  • greenhouses, hoophouses, cold-frames, and similar structures used to extend the growing season

  • open space associated with and intended for use as garden areas

  • signs for identification, information and providing directions

  • benches, bike racks, raised/accessible planting beds, compost bins, picnic tables, seasonal farm stands, fences, garden art, rain barrel systems, chicken coops, beehives, and children's play areas

  • tool sheds, shade pavilions, barns, rest-room facilities with composting toilets, and planting preparation houses

  • off-street parking and walkways

Community gardens can have occasional sales of items grown on site. Market gardens can do so routinely.

Buildings must be five feet from the property lines and no more than 25 feet tall. Buildings, excluding greenhouses and hoophouses, cannot take up more than 15% of the lot area.

Only gardens more than 15,000 square feet can have off-street parking. Parking must be 10% or less of the lot size.

"Walkways shall be unpaved except as necessary to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities."

Signs can be up to 4 square feet and up to six feet tall.

Farm stands must be removed during times of the year when they are not open for business.

Urban Ag Overlay (UAO) Districts
This is pending adoption.

An UAO district may be established to:

(a) to provide appropriately located and sized land for urban agriculture use;
(b) to facilitate local food production and improve community health;
(c) to provide local opportunities for agriculture-based entrepreneurship and employment;
(d) to enhance the environment and improve stormwater management;
(e) to ensure safe and sanitary conditions for urban agriculture uses;
(f) to protect nearby residential areas from any adverse impacts of agricultural use; and
(g) to ensure that land best suited for non-agricultural use remains available for such use.

UAO districts will be zoned in areas where "it has been determined that urban agriculture is an appropriate use of the land." That determination will be made by the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

A UAO district must be at least 10,000 square feet.

In addition to whatever else is allowed in the zone where a UAO is established, urban farms, market gardens, and community gardens are also allowed as principle land uses. Also, in addition to whatever else is allowed in the zone where a UAO is established, the following are allowed:


(a) greenhouses, hoophouses, coldframes, and similar structures used to extend the growing
season;

(b) benches, bike racks, raised/accessible planting beds, composting, picnic tables, seasonal
farm stands, fences, garden art, rain barrel systems, chicken coops, beehives, and children's play areas;

(c) buildings, limited to tool sheds, shade pavilions, barns, restroom facilities with composting toilets, and planting preparation houses, in conformance with the regulations of Section 336A.05;

(d) off-street parking and walkways, paved with pervious material, loose materials or hard- surfacing.

In a UAO district, buildings up to 35 feet tall must be at least five feet from property lines adjoining a residential property. Buildings over 35 feet must be set back an additional foot for each additional five feet of building height. "Buildings other than greenhouses shall cover no more than fifteen percent (15%) of the land area of an urban agriculture use."

Fences are allowed. Chain link fences must be no more than six feet tall.

In a UAO district, you can have one hen, ducks, goose, turkey, rabbit or "similar farm animal" for each 100 square feet, and one rooster per 10,000 square feet. The coop or cage must be five feet from a side yard line and 18 feet from a rear yard line. Roosters must be at least 20 feet from the lot line of a Residential District outside the UAO district. (Although believe me, whoever lives next door will still hear that rooster from 20 feet away.)

No cockfighting.

Coops: "All animals shall be provided with a covered, predator-proof coop or cage or other shelter that is thoroughly ventilated, designed to be easily accessed and cleaned, and of sufficient size to permit free movement of the animals, exclusive of areas used for storage of materials or vehicles."

Poultry must have an outdoor enclosure that keeps them safe and allows them at least 10 square feet per bird.

You can have one goat, pig, or sheep for each 4000 square feet. Their stable or enclosure must be 20 feet from the street, 5 feet from your property line, and 75 feet from a residential district outside the UAO district.

You can have one horse, cow, alpaca, or llama for every 8000 square feet. Their stable or enclosure must be 20 feet from the street, 10 feet from a property line, and 100 feet from any residential district outside the UAO district.

You can have one beehive per 1000 square feet. The rules here are otherwise similar to the rules on bees in residential zones.

You can compost. No odor, pest infestations, or runoff. No selling compost unless it's allowed by the underlying zone you are in.

You can sell things so long as 75% of sales area is devoted to farm produce (although the farm produce doesn't have to all be grown on site).

You can slaughter chickens, ducks, rabbits, and "other similar small animals" so long as they were raised on site and you do it inside a building or screened from view from adjacent properties.

You must get a permit for agricultural use in a UAO district from the Department of Building and Housing. You need a building permit for all buildings, fences, and structures, except for the exemptions noted above.

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note (4.00 / 1)
the "ag as a principle use in residential districts" thing might be on vacant lots only. I'm not sure.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

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