City Of Elmhurst Targets Family’s Backyard Greenhouse

(CBS) – A west suburban family is fighting to keep growing their own crops in their backyard.

The city of Elmhurst, however, is demanding they take down their greenhouse.

CBS 2’s Sandra Torres reports.

For Nicole Virgil and her family, their backyard greenhouse is their pride and joy.

It goes up five months a year. The structure is made from PVC pipe and plastic drop cloth material that keeps the soil from freezing in the winter months.

“We got the idea for it from it from watching YouTube videos and thought, the growing season is a little short. It would be really nice if we could get another month or two,” Virgil says.

The problem is the city doesn’t approve of the “hoop house.”

“City Officials met with the Virgils after receiving a complaint. The structure was put up without a permit and violates City codes. The Virgils were asked by the City to take the structure down. Code Enforcement is currently in the process of seeking compliance,” Elmhurst communications manager Kassondra Schref said in an email.

City officials say zoning code prohibits “membrane structures,” but the Virgil family says the code doesn’t apply to gardening.

“We believe people have the right to garden in their backyard, insofar as they’re not disrupting their neighbors’ property,” Virgil says.

Even though most neighbors signed a petition supporting the structure, the city has asked the Virgils to take it down.

“It’s maddening because we really feel like we are doing something good. We enjoy it. It provides food for our kids, its environmentally friendly and it’s our property,” Nicole Virgil says.

The Virgil family is scheduled to take their fight to court next month.

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