How does a Salem street become a private vegetable garden?
That is a question City Councilors are scratching their heads about after Arthur King, a long-time Salem resident who lives on Wall Street, complained that some new resident in a house near his home had chopped
up a portion of the asphalt on the dead-end Richard Road to extend a
vegetable garden. Richard Road is an extension of Ober Road.
According to city solicitor Elizabeth Rennard, Mayor Kimberley Driscoll granted a temporary license for the garden last year to allow the gardeners time to harvest their vegetables.
The temporary license expired at the end of the year. But this spring, the garden is back, King told the councilors. When Salem Patch visited the site, the vegetables seemed to be planted again, across the back of the house, and in what looks like it was part of the one-block-long street.
Several perplexed members of the Committee on Community and Economic
Development wanted to know how a license was granted without approval of the council.
“What is the difference between a license and a lease?” asked Ward 2 Councilor Michael Sosnowski. “I know we (the council) have to approve any lease of city-owned property.”
Rennard explained that a license, in this case, was temporary, as opposed to a lease that was for a longer term.
The committee instructed Rennard to ask City Engineer David Knowlton to measure the width of Richard Road and, if the gardeners are planting on city land, to ask them to stop gardening on Salem city-owned property and restore the property to it original condition.
The councilors were so annoyed that they also instructed the solicitor to assess the gardeners with the cost of doing the survey and the cost of putting the asphalt back.
The committee is planning to hold a broader public hearing on the issue at its next meeting.