Code Enforcement, Dekalb County, Georgia, USA: Put down those seeds. Keep your hands where I can see them! ... Higher! ... Release the dogs!
County fines man $5K for backyard garden
His neighbors call it "Cabbagegate." And it cost Steve Miller a lot of green. The Clarkston, Ga., man was fined $5,200 for growing too many vegetables in his backyard.
Miller had been growing legumes for 15 years, selling them at local farmers markets and giving them away to friends, before he was cited by the Dekalb County Code Enforcement office for the first time last September. It's illegal to garden at such a level in the zone where he lives. Miller tried to challenge the penalty, but a reprieve was slow in coming, and the fight's not over.
"Time went on, but no answers, then I get a letter in the mail with more fines," ... "Didn't get an answer back from the county until I started getting notices from code enforcement in October, and before I knew it I got a subpoena to go to court."
... long legal battle... successfully rezoned his land. But despite that victory, the county is still fining him for all of his illicit vegetables, and even for hiring workers to weed the fallow land after he stopped working it.
... backyard gardener -- about one and a quarter acres in production with crops like celery, tomatoes, lettuce, Swiss chard, beets, cilantro, carrots and, of course, cabbage. He peddles his harvests at farmers markets, but doesn't always turn a profit. And it's far from his main occupation. Miller is a landscaper by trade.
"It's not my source of income, it's my passion," he said. "If it were my main source of income, I'd have to sell my house."
Miller had no idea that growing vegetables on his land was illegal -- in fact, he purchased the plot because he knew people had grown vegetables for profit there in the past.
The county refused to comment as the case is still pending, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Want To Learn About The DeKalb County Jail?
Nobody ever wants to go to jail - they end up there by making bad decisions (or usually, a series of escalating bad decisions).
[Seeds of trouble...]
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