IOWA CITY – The Iowa City homeowner whose front-yard garden led to a dispute with the city said he will comply with removing all of his plantings.
Dr. Timothy Volm said he was given a July 31 deadline or the city would bulldoze the roses, native wildflowers and other plants that adorn his front yard.
“I do not have the connections or the clout to fight this,” Volm said, citing a dispute with a contractor at the root of the disagreement and the reason for being “singled out” by the city.
Volm contracted the area to be cleared, tilled and mulched this Thursday, July 18, with a planned fall planting of hairy vetch, a ground cover.
“My sense is that the overwhelming majority of people liked what I did, yet the city will only respond to the few complaints,” Volm said. “So a few can outweigh the wishes of the many.”
He hoped that the city can revise its code to allow rules to be more fairly and uniformly applied.
Iowa City Parks Superintendent, Terry Robinson, had written to Volm, noting that complaints had been lodged about a sight obstruction for vehicles and passage on the sidewalk of Volm’s Church Street home.
He was ordered to remove the plants so they do not grow back in the future and replace with grass or another groundcover.
The area includes the city right-of-way between the curb and sidewalk, as well as the rosebushes and other plants growing in the ﬁrst three feet of property behind the sidewalk toward Volm’s house, which is also city right-of-way.
“I wrote and offered several proposals, including using a professional landscaper,” Volm said. “All were rejected.”
Robinson stated the issue has been ongoing for five years. Volm has since moved to Fairfield and is considering renting out his Iowa City home.
Volm had planted his alternative lawn with flowers and bushes, in part, for environmental reasons, citing reduced groundwater pollution and carbon dioxide and increased biodiversity, especially among pollinating insects.
“I planted the front yard for the enjoyment of myself and others,” he said. “It was effective. There were plenty of notes on the porch, of thanks. There is the reward for me.”