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Detroit Council postpones vote on "world's largest urban farm"

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Hantz Farms

The Detroit City Council delayed a vote on a controversial urban farm proposal Tuesday.

Hantz Farms had proposed buying more than 140 acres in vacant land on Detroit's east side for a tree farm. It could expand to include other forms of agriculture in the future.

Some Council members were receptive to the idea, but worried about some details. There was concern about approving the plan without a public hearing, and before the city has an urban agriculture ordinance in place.

But others, like Councilman Kwame Kenyatta, oppose the idea of large-scale urban farming altogether.

“I don’t have a problem with farms, but I do have a problem with turning this city into a farm," Kenyatta said.

"And this is not two or three acres…this is not two or three parcels. This is more than 1500 parcels.”

Council members moved to hold a public hearing on the issue, and pushed a vote back to December 11th.

The Hantz Farms idea has been floated for years. The brainchild of Detroit financier John Hantz, the idea is to create the "world's largest urban farm."

Proponents say it's a cost-effective way to clean up some of Detroit's blighted city-owned land, and put it back on the tax rolls. Critics say the plan is a "speculative land grab" that has been fast-tracked at the expense of smaller-scale urban agriculture and other grassroots projects.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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