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Monday, November 14, 2011

Agriburbia™ - Beyond Chickens in the City?

Last month, I posted a story about municipal regulation of urban agriculture.  The post included examples of small scale trends in urban agriculture, including municipal regulation of the conversion of lawns to crops and the keeping of chickens on residential properties.  Many municipalities such as Denver, Chicago, and others are finding it necessary to address these small scale sustainability efforts by adopting or amending existing ordinances, which had not contemplated agricultural uses in residential districts.  But, while urban agriculture can trace its roots to individuals and families interested in implementing their own form of sustainable practices one residential lot at a time, some are taking urban agriculture to the next level and integrating urban agriculture into new residential developments. 

"Agriburbia" integrates food production as an integral element in a residential community.  The term "Agriburbia" has been trade marked by and is being developed by The TSR Group, a design and sustainable development management firm based in Golden, Colorado.   According to The TSR Group's website, an Agriburbia planned development replaces traditional landscaping with vegetable gardens, orchards, vineyards, and other crops, for the use and enjoyment of the development and surrounding communities.  The farming areas are typically owned and managed by the HOA, although some developments have leased out the land to private entities to farm on behalf of the HOA.  The purpose of the agriburbia planned development is to provide residents with locally grown fruits and vegetables and, in some cases, revenue from the sale of produce through local farmers' markets. 

What this means for municipalities is that they may need to look beyond the basic "chickens in the city" ordinance and consider establishing broader land use regulations and controls to address this new trend.  Most zoning and land use codes are not likely to allow commercial agricultural operations such as those contemplated in an Agriburbiaplanned development in residential zoning districts.  A municipality interested in encouraging this type of sustainable land use development might consider amending its planned unit development regulations to establish regulatory controls and standards for this new trend of development. 


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