To continue this saga where I last left off—>
At the December 20th Port Washington Common Council Meeting, the City Planner and the City Administrator introduced their draft of Port’s urban beekeeping policy. Charlie from BeePods and the Urban Ecology Center was there to give his thoughts and ideas on the document, and he was able to address the Council and clarify things. It was met with rave reviews from the Council members and a fair amount of questions asked by the City Attorney. It was understood that the document was very organic, that it would continue to be tweaked and changed, not only from feedback from City officials, but also based on input from Charlie. We walked out of there with positive attitudes, feeling nothing but good vibes from everyone involved. And I am pleased to say that’s still the case. 🙂
There were a couple of gray areas that needed to be dealt with and some modifications/clarifications, and from the last draft I have seen, it is ready to rock and roll! As I have stated in previous blog posts, with all of the research I have done since October, I have read literally dozens of ordinances varying from restrictive to bee-tolerant to bee- (and beekeeper-) friendly. This last version is the closest to bee-friendly I have seen. Period. I knew that Port was looking to other communities’ ordinances as a rough model, a starting point, and my fear was that it was going to be a very restrictive starting point. If I were asked to characterize the last draft I saw, the words I would use would be responsible and educated. It is readily apparent the amount of time that these two gentlemen spent on this topic, and for that we are grateful.
I was accused by a Council member of not wanting any regulations on beekeeping, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I told him that the last thing I want is a neighbor who has taken checked out “Beekeeping for Dummies” from the local library, thumbed through it, and goes out and gets 5 stacks of Langstroths and a nuc for each, installs the bees in Spring, shoves them under a tree on his 40’x60′ lot next to a neighbor’s swimming pool, and doesn’t do a thing with them until he’s ready to harvest (steal) ALL of the honey in Fall. 1.) It’s irresponsible. 2.) It doesn’t do anything to help the honeybee population. 3.) It gives beekeepers a bad image… and that doesn’t even touch on the obvious safety issues.
The thing with regulations (like a lot of things) is that it is a slippery slope. Once you get started imposing the terms and conditions, it is easy to go too far. Not the case here. This particular draft allows for a beekeeper to proceed with their hobby in an urban setting in a way that not only keeps the neighboring residents happy, but allows for the bees to be kept in the locations and the manner in which best suits the bees. When looking at hive placement, some ordinances look solely at having the hive be in the dead center of the lot/yard, furthest from the public right-of-way and neighboring properties; this does not leave any room for the beekeeper to look at optimal locations, taking into account sunlight, residents’ living/play space, flight pattern, etc. Some ordinances fail to write it in a way that allows for a hive to be placed on a porch, a deck or even a rooftop. We are thankful that our (hopefully!) soon-to-be ordinance takes all of these things into consideration, is very forward-thinking, and is community-oriented– it allows for conversations with neighbors (rather than postal notification), it allows for neighbors to sign-off on closer hive placement, and it encourages joining a local beekeeping organization/community. This may very well become the new “Go-To” ordinance for beekeepers to introduce to their communities. It is that well written.
On to tonight~ at 7:30 PM is the Common Council Meeting where they will have the official 1st Reading of the proposed beekeeping ordinance for the City of Port Washington. This is a big day… one of many big days, with a few more yet to come. If all goes well tonight, at the next Meeting in two weeks, they will have the 2nd Reading, followed by the vote. (My stomach just did an ever-so-slight somersault. Or seven.)
We are going into the meeting tonight cautiously optimistic.
Ooohhhh, to hell with it!! We are going into the meeting tonight
cautiously completely, uncharacteristically optimistic.