It feels like I have been holding my breath since the beginning of October, when we first received the letter from the City Attorney about our urban beehive. It has been a long process of ups and downs, phone calls, meetings, letters and emails, weighing our options and planning our next steps, but it would appear as though we may actually be able to stop and simply breathe right now, after holding our breath for months.
Did someone say it’s Christmas?!?! Where did the last two months go??? Oh, yeah… that’s right… 🙂
Going into the meeting Tuesday night, we had become aware of the fact that it was not, in fact, going to be the first reading for the proposed ordinance, but just an update on the draft. We went to the meeting early to make ourselves available yet again, and were greeted by a neighbor who happened to be there regarding another issue. He attended our open house in October, and he again stated his support for our hive. Then we were surprised to be approached by one of the City officials who has been, shall I say, not our biggest supporter. He asked a few specific questions (which I always see as a positive sign, that there is engagement and interest), which we were happy to answer. Our mentor and friend Charlie Koenen from BeePods also came to help us out. Unfortunately, there was a lot on the agenda, which made for an anxious 2 hours before our issue came up, and of course, it was right after a very heated, contentious 45 minute long debate. I was sweating and squirming the entire time, absolutely sick with nerves.
The City Planner and City Administrator started out by stating that the ordinance that they had drafted was being modeled after Milwaukee and Evanston, Illinois’ ordinances. After some explanations, Charlie was allowed to get up and speak to the Council members. He spoke point by point about ideas, concerns and suggestions that he had, and he was able to answer questions from the Council and, in particular, the City attorney. All of the Alermen had positive responses not only to Charlie’s thoughts but also to the document as a whole. The City Planner and the City Administrator said that they are going to make a few changes and that the City attorney was going to “have his crack at it” and that it would be presented to the Council for a First Reading at one of the two January meetings.
Following the meeting, I took the opportunity to speak with the City Planner to thank him for his hard work and time and tell him what a great job he did with the draft. In all sincerity, the working draft rivals some communities’ ordinances. It is closer to being bee-friendly than many others, as opposed to strictly bee-tolerant, and it allows for dialogue with neighbors, local beekeeping associations, the state bee inspector, bee educators, City officials, and individual beekeepers. It is extremely forward-thinking in it’s language and is obviously the result of many hours of research and conversations, and we are beyond appreciative. It is one thing for those of us who are passionate to learn more about our hobby, but he and the City Administrator have done so by default. They could have easily looked to adopt a carbon-copy ordinance from another city, but instead they took into account what would work best in our community. Even Aldermen who were on the fence at last conversation appear to be standing behind this document right now. Aaaand exhale!
Now we can rest for this Christmas week, having a little less stress for the time being. Yes, minds can easily be changed back to the fear and the negativity that we were facing earlier, but we cannot allow that to dictate our attitude right now. It is simply time to breathe, to enjoy this period of peace (albeit short-lived, as it usually is), and celebrate this small victory.