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Case against Michigan community farm owner dropped, new charges emerge

Police in Oak Park have dropped the case against Julie Bass for having a garden in her front yard. Instead, the city is pursuing criminal charges against her for failing to have her two dogs licensed.

Bass made headlines around the world after she went public about the garden fray with Oak Park officials. They said the growing bins she created in her front yard to grow a variety of fresh veggies this summer drew the ire of the city’s code compliance enforcement teams. The enforcement officers said the garden in the front yard was not suitable, saying only grass, flowers, trees and shrubs were.

Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski challenged folks to look up the word “suitable.” He said Webster’s would tell anyone the word meant “common.” But as Messenger was first to point out, that’s not the case.

The resulting firestorm over the case clearly had a bit to do with the charges for the front yard garden being dropped. The dropping of the charges prevent the city from spending money in court prosecuting a misdemeanor before a jury.

But Oak Park was not content to let sleeping dogs lie. They instead reinstated charges against Bass for failing to license her two dogs, reports the Detroit News. Failing to have a dog licensed is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 93-days in jail. However, most municipalities, Bass’ attorney Solomon Radner says, drop the charges when a suspect provides proof the dogs are licensed.

But when Radner was talking to the Oak Park city attorney about the dropped misdemeanor growing a garden charge when he was informed Bass would still face the failing to license the dogs. He called that “a very dirty move.” He also told the News he thinks the city dropped the garden case because of the heat of the spotlight.

He also intimated that the charges may not remain gone forever.

“Charges are dropped for the time being,” Radner said. “Based on the games the city has been playing, I would not put it past them to drop the charges just to get the media off their back.”

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