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Councilman Rethinks Plan to Expand Oversight of Community Gardens

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A Philadelphia city councilman has withdrawn a plan that had organizers of community gardens up in arms.

Councilman Brian O'Neill last year had proposed amending the city's new zoning code in several ways.  One change would have required certain community gardens -- those in mixed-use commercial zones -- to get approval of the Zoning Board.

But O'Neill now has withdrawn the plan after getting what he admits was an earful from advocates and organizers of community gardens.

"Community gardens provide a good revitalization tool in terms of greening the site, stopping it from being a trash dump.  And it seems to get a lot of community involved that wouldn't be otherwise," he acknowledged today.

He admits he got educated.

"I got educated, and I think my colleagues (on Council) understand it better, too, now," O'Neill tells KYW Newsradio.

He says he is still pushing forward with other changes to the new zoning code involving other uses, including pet stores and group homes.  A final vote on that could come as early as next week.

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