Oak Park Drops Gardening Charges Against Julie Bass, Goes After Her Dogs

Charges Dropped In Front Yard Gardening Case

The city may not have the dirt it needs on Julie Bass's garden, so it's going after the farm animals instead.

Prosecutors in Oak Park, Mich., have dropped a misdemeanor charge against Bass, who until yesterday was staring down a July 26 court date and potential 93 days in jail for planting and refusing to remove a vegetable garden on her front lawn.

The Bass family vegetable garden generated a national media stir as the family battled city prosecutors who claimed that cabbages, peppers and tomatoes were not "suitable" for the front yard.

In the past weeks, the city threatened Bass with a warning, ticket and finally, the misdemeanor charge, none of which persuaded Bass to dig up the garden.

And while prosecutors have dropped the charges for now, Bass and local prosecutors haven't exactly turned over a new leaf.

According to Bass, Oak Park is pursuing charges that the Bass family dogs are not licensed with the city. Bass claims that the dogs were registered with the city less than a week after she received the ticket and that she has since presented the necessary documentation to prosecutors.

"This is our fault; we paid a late fee," she told The Huffington Post.

While Bass cautiously expects that the dog issue will be sorted out accordingly, she remains uneasy about the city's ability to revisit the gardening case, as it was dropped without prejudice.

"I don't know if I expect it but I'm afraid of it," she said. "Pretty much every step of the way Oak Park has done something counter to conventional judgment. Everything I expect them to do, they just do something completely different."

On Thursday, prosecutor Eugene Lumberg told The Detroit News that he plans to take a closer look at the issue.

"I want to look at it, I want to see the facts, I want to see where this vegetable garden is going and make a determination of whether or not to prosecute under the existing ordinance, write a new ordinance and (examine) the public welfare," Lumberg said.

Officials will be watching Bass as they decide whether to resurrect the issue.

"She may decide to grow a cornfield," Lumberg added. "If she plows up a compost heap, what are [we] going to do?"

Come next season, Bass knows she could be harvesting a whole new battle over her garden.

"We're not out of the woods."

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