Ypsilanti Zoning Ordinance Permitting of gardens/community gardens

Community Food Security, Land Use and Planning, Land Use Regulation
Policy type

The City of Ypsilanti amended their zoning ordinance to permit gardens and community gardens in certain zoning districts within city limits. Gardens and community gardens are permitted by-right on vacant lots in R1, CN, CN-Mid, and CN-SF districts as long as they maintain a 3-foot setback on street frontages, meet traffic visibility regulations, and do not encroach onto adjacent parcels or sights-of-way. The sale of goods grown in a garden or community garden are prohibited on sites located in residential districts, while the sale of goods from greenhouses in business and other districts must adhere to the requirements for those districts. Composting is allowed only for waste generated on-site, and compost piles are subject to setbacks. Storm water, irrigation water, and other materials from gardening operations must not spill onto other lots, or public streets/alleys. Motorized equipment can only be used between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM in gardens and community gardens located in a residential zoning district or residential planned unit development district. The ordinance also states that these provisions become null and void if gardening or related operations invoke the Michigan Right-to-Farm Act.

Relationship to food access, food insecurity, or local food economies

Community gardens provide a number of benefits for residents, such as increased community food security and access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods (Collier & Rabaut 2011). Ypsilanti’s zoning ordinance is allowing residents and businesses to grow food in gardens to promote the local food system and improve food access.

Scale of Governance
Summary Link
Michigan Good Food Charter Priority

Priority 1 – Increase healthy food access & consumption, Priority 6 – Use policy & planning to increase food access


Collier, A. and Rabaut, C. (2011). Good Food Access: Michigan Good Food Work Group Report No. 2 of 5. East Lansing, MI: C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University. Retrieved on September 19, 2016 from LINK.