03132019CM0236 1SPRINGFIELD – An Elmhurst family may soon be able to extend their backyard gardening season, thanks to State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park).

The Senate’s Local Government Committee heard testimony on Wednesday in support of Cullerton’s measure, Senate Bill 1675, which would stop municipalities from banning the construction of a season extension or crop protection device such as a hoop house from October 1 to April 15 every year.

“Hoop houses allow residents to extend growing season to grow fresh produce all year round,” Cullerton said. “It’s a shame that the state needed to get involved to allow local residents to take advantage of countless health benefits throughout our winter months. My hope is the City of Elmhurst reaches a swift and responsible decision in the next week to avoid the state’s involvement.”

The issue began in 2015, when city officials told Nicole Virgil and her husband, Dan, that their hoop house violated city rules and directed them to take it down. The Virgils had designed and built a hoop house, which is a series of large hoops or bows—made of metal, plastic pipe or wood—covered with a layer of heavy greenhouse plastic. The plastic is stretched tight and fastened to baseboards with strips of wood, metal or wire. Hoop houses can be used to grow some crops year-round.

Since then, the Virgils have been battling zoning restrictions to get the city’s permission to extend their backyard gardening season. The Elmhurst City Council voted on the matter again in February, blocking the hoop house with the mayor casting a rare tie-breaker vote.

“Local and state government exists to preserve the rights of the people,” Nicole Virgil said. “I would like units of local government to respect and support the benign backyard activities of residents.”

The initiative is supported by the Illinois Environmental Council, Sustain DuPage, Urban Canopy, DuPage County Farm Bureau, DuPage NAACP, Eco-Justice Collaborative, Sierra Club and Elmhurst Hoop House. Nearly 1,500 supporters have expressed their support for the measure.

Cullerton hopes the City of Elmhurst will enact policies that will allow residents like Virgil to keep backyard gardens year round. The matter remains under discussion in the Senate’s Local Government Committee.

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CONTACT SENATOR CULLERTON

Welcome to the official website of Senator Tom Cullerton. Please fill out our contact form to contact Senator Cullerton directly or you may call either of our offices. We look forward to hearing from you.

District Office
338 S. Ardmore Ave.
Villa Park, IL 60181
P: (630) 903-6662
F: (630) 903-6643

Springfield Office
122 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
P: (217) 782-9463