NORTH OGDEN -- Those tomatoes, potatoes, peas and peppers from your backyard garden tasted sweet this summer, but your harvest was probably against the law.
North Ogden officials recently learned there's an old ordinance that prohibits gardens in residential areas, but the city council is rewriting it so people with green thumbs don't have to worry about getting caught red-handed.
City ordinances provide only two zones that allow gardens -- the same two zones that allow for livestock, the RE-20 zone and the city's main agriculture zone. These zones are in the northern and western sides of the city.
City officials were unaware that gardeners in residential zones have violated the ordinance for the last 50 years.
Community Development Director Craig Barker said he became aware of the zoning oddity recently when a family bought a large parcel of land in the center of the city and planned to put in a large garden. They were the ones who came across the old ordinance.
Barker said when the ordinance was written the city looked at agriculture as gardening and livestock, but Weber County defines agriculture simply as the tilling of the soil. As the ordinance stands now, residents can only keep out weeds in regular residential zones.
The city held a public hearing last week to change the ordinance so agriculture is stated only as tilling the soil, so gardens can be allowed in all zones.
"It seems senseless not to allow this," Barker said.
City Councilman Ron Flamm pointed out that the ordinance needs more modifications because of questions recently brought up about keeping chickens in residential zones. Barker said the planning commission is working on that, but that is not part of this issue. That side of the ordinance will be before the council in the coming weeks, he said.
"I guess I have been breaking the law for the past 40 years," said resident Dean Allred. He had no idea that he and his neighbors were not legally able to have gardens.
"This definitely needs to be changed," he said. "Gardens help people put a little food on their table," he said.
City Councilman Wade Bigler agreed with Allred
"I'm in 100 percent agreement with this change. It is very good we have found this," Bigler said.
Barker said he didn't know how such an ordinance had slipped past everyone for so many years. He also noted that there would be no citations passed out for not following the ordinance.
The council will vote on the zoning ordinance change at its next meeting.