Monday vote will determine Sumner garden rules

kari.plog@thenewstribune.comMarch 17, 2014 

Community gardeners in Sumner will soon know the new terms of use for the plot of city-owned land they’ve been cultivating for seven years.

On Monday night, the Sumner City Council will vote on a land-use agreement for the community garden, located on city cemetery property.

The action comes after city staff raised several concerns related to liability and appearance of the property, which the gardeners say they immediately worked to address.

Mayor Dave Enslow has been reluctant to keep the garden going, stressing at a study session last week that too many city resources have been spent dealing with the problems.

“I don’t want to see the city in a lot of hassles over this thing,” he said.

Among key sticking points between gardeners and the City Council, a dispute about whether to allow rototillers and other comparable equipment could decide the garden’s future.

The city fears the use of “heavy machinery,” even if the gardeners secure their own insurance policy. But gardeners say if the council bans rototillers and other equipment, they won’t be able to properly maintain the garden.

Other points of contention to be discussed Monday include keeping chickens on the property and disposal of derelict structures.

The News Tribune first reported on the conflict last week.

City Administrator John Galle said he wants to see the garden succeed and has worked to find common ground. He acknowledged that disallowing heavy machinery could mean the end of the garden, even if other requirements are met and a land-use agreement is secured.

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682 @KariPlog

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