Hypothetical: a homeowner received a letter in the mail from the city stating that said homeowner is being ordered to keep their lawn mowed such that the lawn did not violate the city ordinance about maximum grass height. This hypothetical letter stated that if the homeowner failed to keep the lawn mowed that the city would have the lawn mowed for him and charge him for the mowing service.
In general, I wonder if the city is allowed to dictate how that property should look, but in thish specific case the problem is even trickier...
Hypothetically, the homeowner actually uses the plants that grow in the lawn. He considers the entire lawn to be a garden and uses the plants in it for various purposes, including but not limited to a food source.
So there are several issues with the order received:
The homeowner does not care what the neighbors think of the yard. He likes it the way it is and feels he should be able to keep it how he wants as long as it is not causing the neighbors any injury to their person or property.
a. Does the city have authority to make demands based on personal opinions (even if held by the majority) about what looks pleasant?
The homeowner wants to keep growing the garden. To him, it very much is a garden.
a. Since it is a used garden, does that cause the city to lose any legal authority to do this which they may otherwise have had?
The homeowner does not want some mowing service person destroying the garden.
a. As soon as the homeowner notifies the city that this is a garden, does the city still have any legal authority to destroy that garden as they have threatened to do?
The homeowner does not believe the lawn-garden is causing any injury to the neighbors or their property and not tall enough to harbor critters.
Can the city legally compel someone to destroy their garden?
This is considered from the point of view of the state of New York.
Since that is (sort of) a yes/no question, if you need something broader to provide a good answer, perhaps consider: On what legal grounds can a city compel someone to destroy their garden? Does the city even need to provide a rationale, or are they legally justified by mere fiat?
The closest case law I can think of was a case where a man had a sign on his property that a city ordered him to remove, but the court determined that the city had no authority to dictate what he could or could not write on his property. I don't think that case was New York, but I cannot find it again. Also that case may have been a first amendment issue which probably does not apply to gardens. Is there any law (case, state, federal, common, anything...) which could apply to the above scenario?