Back to the story at hand.
The last part of the saga was the unanimous passing of Ordinance 2012-1 Licensing and Regulating Beekeeping in the City of Port Washington. This was the collaborative efforts of area beekeeping experts (including Charlie Koenen from BeePods), the City Planner, the City Administrator, the City Attorney and others. They referred to other urban beekeeping ordinances, tweaked it to meet the needs of Port and the liking of the Aldermen, Mayor and City Attorney. We thought it was as good as it could have been.
A part of the ordinance is the Neighborhood Notification Form (NNF-1). The City maps out a 200 foot radius from the center of the property where the applicant resides. The applicant is then required to contact the homeowners of the properties within this radius, showing them a hand-drawn map of the property (including where the hive is, flyaway barriers, water, property lines, etc.), and have them sign the form, checking that they either approve or that they oppose. There is also a third box stating that one (or more) people residing at the address has a demonstrable medical condition caused by bee stings. According to the ordinance, if more than 30% of homeowners within the radius oppose, or is 1 who has the medical condition opposes, the applicant will then be required to have a hearing in front of the City Council, who will then decide the fate of the applicant. Follow all of that? 🙂
The first day of the NNF canvassing, I step outside on a chilly afternoon in my jeans, layered shirts, mittens and casual coat and my favorite pink Adidas sneakers. My husband then informs me (in one way, shape or form) that I may want to put more consideration into my outfit choice. So I put on a nice pair of black pants, sweater, dress shoes and my wool peacoat. As I am wandering, knocking and ringing doorbells unsuccessfully, it occurs to me that no one knows who I am because I look nothing like I usually do when they see me chasing my kids, out for a walk or bike ride, or up to my elbows in my garden. Aside from meeting with the Priest to sign off for the neighboring Church/school/nursing home, I came up pretty empty.
We live in an eclectic mix of a neighborhood– residents who have been here 50+ years, young families new to the area, renters, part-time residents, and vacant properties. Seeing as the Ordinance calls for “homeowners,” this made it difficult to reach some of the non-resident homeowners. All in all, I figure that out of the 25 or so properties in the radius, I was able to be in contact with over 15 of the property owners; the remaining 10 either do not live at the residence or after 4-6 attempts, I stopped trying. All but one person was aware of what was going on, and in fact, the biggest response I got was, “We were wondering when you were going to come around!” It was a wonderful opportunity to exchange information and answer questions, but for the most part it was a lot of preaching to the choir. But I am never one to shy away from an opportunity to talk bees and beekeeping, so it was a good experience.
After turning in the application and NNF-1, the City sent all of the homeowners in the 200 foot radius a Notification of Beekeeping Application along with the map we had to make with the NNF-1 form. The letter states that homeowners have 14 days to submit a written objection to the application. 14 days.
We will deal with whatever hand we are dealt, as we always have. So again, cautiously optimistic.