(IL)legality of using tractor&truck tires for use as gardens in America

Asked June 10, 2018, 1:18 AM EDT

I'm having the worst luck attempting to use tires that I got from a local tire sales business. He deals a lot with selling new tires for farm tractors and semi trucks. I saw that he was struggling to get rid of them and since I have a large back yard in a rural town in SW Michigan, and my daughter is a vegan, I wanted to try to grow as many fruits and vegetables as I could. I got 80 tires, all semi truck 20" or larger, and cut a sidewall from every one of them so they wouldn't retain water. I'm burying them halfway, using the dirt attached to the lawn, which is a great sandy/loamy soil, which I then add soil amendments to like worm castings, perlite and coco-coir. I dug 33 holes generally 42-60" diameter half as deep as the tire tread is tall, packing the inside completely full. I got halfway done and the city manager/code enforcer came and sited me, saying all the tires must be removed from my yard, though he told my wife that if they were completely buried to grade, he might allow that. He gave me 10 days to clean my property up to perfection, including the tires, to be completed by this wednsday, june 13,'18 at which time he's planning to show up with city workers to remove them all that aren't stored in a bldg. I need help from someone in the agricultural community that they'd likely listen to and hoped you would help out. I'm also going to try my local extension service here in Cassopolis, MI. the local number for his office is 269-445-8648 and mine is 269-228-8257 I'm JOE McCleery at 413 N. Broadway, Cassopolis, MI Thanks for any help

Cass County Michigan

1 Response

First, your local code compliance officer is probably categorizing your raised tire beds as "junk," although I can't know that for sure without reading the code violation letter that he gave to you. The 10-day clean-up is a typical warning in city code compliance issues. To further understand the issue, it is useful to acknowledge the background and potential impacts that tractor tires can have on your gardening: Old tires pose 3 primary environmental risks, chemical, disease, and fire. From an article out of Missouri Extension: Tires are not just rubber any more. They are better described as petrol-chemical plastics. As such they break down over time and release petroleum chemicals to the soil and some heavy metals. While the release is slow, it can build up over time. Also, there is a concern about mosquito growth in tires. A very small puddle of water can produce many mosquitoes and they are a vector for several diseases. A tire would need soil placed very carefully within it to avoid becoming a mosquito breeding site. The fire issue seems small for a single tire in the landscape or even a small group of tires, but in an accidental fire situation, they can still pose a pollution risk to the soil and the air.
With that said, you have the right to contact your city's zoning office and ask for an extension on that 10-day deadline, and/or ask for an appeal from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals. Michigan residents have the right to appeal an administrative decision. If you decide to appeal, the ZBA will review the city's decision to see if it was based on standards in the zoning ordinance. Your city's junk ordinance or other related ordinance will be reviewed. I recommend that you read these ordinances thoroughly before deciding to appeal. Here is an MSUE article that will provide you with more detail about the appeal process:http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/how_to_handle_appeals_of_administrative_decisions .

Thank you for your inquiry