Saturday, December 20, 2008

Staying ahead of the curve

The other day I wrote of the idea put forth by Suzan Tobin about alternative uses of attached garages. Yes, I know that some of you think that I have gone completely batty, but Lexingtonians used to live like this. Having their livelihood on the same property where they lived. And, not just in the country portion on the county, I mean right downtown.

I also recall reading about "front yard farming" back in April. It seems that there are some enterprising urban dwellers who have plowed up their front yard and are raising food. Now, this can't happen in those areas I spoke of then because... there aren't any front yards to speak of, and practically no back yards either. And the former can't happen in the older areas... because the garages are in the rear of the lots.

Now comes, the latest in urban living. Keeping chickens and/or bees. This is just one more part of the urban farming movement or making city more sustainable. All of these part need to work in conjunction with each other for the system to work. In Cleveland, they are trying to change the rules to allow families to raise chickens in residential neighborhoods and allow beekeepers to have hives within 100 feet of a residence. This is taking place in the birthplace of "Euclidian zoning ".

I don't want everyone to think that I want all of our residential streets to have a jumble of tacky junk stores or continuous yard sales(although I think some could try it), but a mix of retail uses at intersections serving approximately a two block radius is not a bad thing. A little something to supplement the income, not a get rich, retire early type situation. A family run service with only one, if that many, positions of hired help. These kind of places have worked for centuries and they can work in the future, if we want them to.

But we, here in Lexington, have rules and laws and regulations to keep these things from happening. While there is no law prohibiting the keeping of chickens, except the noise ordinance, and I found nothing concerning bees, these uses are not done. There is a prohibition on other livestock and the sale thereof. There are also regulations on home occupations which do not include a majority of Suzan Tobin's suggested possible uses. They fall under commercial uses. Yes, we in Lexington have regulated away just about everything that made us a thriving community. Some people want to regulate more and more, taking away more personal freedoms.

We in Lexington used to have common goals and common wishes. Now we have many varied, disparate goals and dreams, with each person trying to join as many factions as meet their wishes(at the time) and push the city in a thousand directions at once. Sadly, people soon find that they cannot be a part of what they want and just simply go along for the ride. Or leave town.

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