One of the days that we have been anticipating is rapidly approaching~ the day of the first reading of the City of Port Washington’s beekeeping ordinance. I thought that I would be more nervous, but really… with all we have been through (and all we still have yet to endure), I think it has given me some perspective that this is a necessary hurdle. The only question is, how high is it?
The City Planner was kind enough to emailing me the working-draft of the proposed beekeeping ordinance on Thursday; in addition, he also sent it to Charlie and another beekeeping reference person, Andy, for feedback and input. On Friday, after taking into consideration some of the feedback from Andy, some changes were made to the document and it was again sent to me. In the last 2 months, I have become quite informed about the ordinances across the US (and even Canada and the UK), and this is actually pretty… darn… workable! …Assuming that it withstands the scrutiny of the City Councilmen and that it passes. At this point, that’s a pretty big assumption.
So here’s what will happen: Tuesday evening at the City Council meeting, they will have the first reading of the proposed ordinance regulating beekeeping in the City of Port Washington. At that time, the Aldermen, City Planner, City Administrator, Mayor and City Attorney will weigh in, give their opinions and debate the ordinance that the City Administrator and the City Planner drafted. Whether we are able to speak or answer questions is uncertain; typically the audience is not engaged during the Council meetings, although it does happen occasionally. Basically, we can talk during the public comments portion at the beginning and the public comments portion at the end, but otherwise we just get to sit and listen to the conversation. That should be followed by a 2nd Reading and a vote on the ordinance two weeks later. Then, if passed, we will have to go through whatever individual, case-by-case process that is decided upon. And rest assured, it will be a process. Tuesday is just step #43 of at least 100. It is just the next major step.
The fact that this has blown up into the firestorm that it has amazes me. I am an uneventful, run-of-the-mill, average, 30-ish mom who just so happens to keep honeybees. I have gone the last 10 years being defined by either who I am married to or who my children are, and have spent the last two months defined by my hobby and one of my passions– my bees. I exercised due diligence in finding out the laws regarding beekeeping, becoming informed and educated, and choosing the optimal space and the perfect equipment for what I was intending to do… I never would have imagined that I would be here. I also never would have thought that the City officials would have reacted as they have, both positively and negatively– private conversations with City officials that were filled with compassion and candor, and also private conversations with City officials with patronizing, belittling and demeaning attitudes. I never would have predicted the response we have gotten from the media and from the general public. Nothing has ever been predictable or what it seems throughout this.
All of that being said, I wish I knew how this was going to go, that I had some sort of an indicator, but I am without. Conversations and meetings that I thought would go smoothly left me stunned, and likewise, things that I was dreading and sick with anxiety were a breeze. I have encountered ignorance and roadblocks from people I expected to be more educated and informed. I have also made friends and partnerships in some of the strangest, most unexpected places and with the last people I would have thought that would ever align themselves with me. I used to think I was a good people-reader and that I could feel out a situation well, but not after this. All I can do is hope and pray for the best, but be prepared for everything else.
Stay tuned for updates on this. Charlie emailed in some suggestions and hopefully they will be considered. He will also be at the City Council meeting on Tuesday to lend a hand and a voice to the cause, along with being available to answer questions if needed. I am hoping to then spend the next two weeks providing any follow-up information that is needed for everyone to make an informed, educated vote. If you are in SE Wisconsin and are passionate about honeybees and want to lend your support, please consider coming, 7:30 PM, Port Washington City Hall.