The Hailey City Council voted Monday night to revise the definition of urban agriculture to include the production of honey as a permitted use in all residential and transitional zones in the city, along with a detailed list of standards and guidelines for beekeeping and maintaining hives.
Under the new law, beehives will be prohibited on lots smaller than 8,000 square feet in area. Two hives will be allowed on lots that are 8,000 to 11,999 square feet. Three hives will be allowed on lots that are 12,000 to 21,779 square feet in area, and five hives will be allowed on lots that are one-half acre or more in size.
The council agreed to enact the ordinance in part due to a need to re-establish honeybee populations, despite acknowledging that many people are allergic to bee stings.
“I have been allergic to bees forever, but I support this” said Councilwoman Martha Burke, displaying her EpiPen bee anti-venom shot that she carries in case she is stung. Bee stings are potentially fatal for people with bee allergies.
The ordinance change contains numerous requirements for beekeeping, including a minimum hive setback of seven feet from property lines, and 30 feet from homes. The city can enforce immediate removal of hives in cases where bees show “aggressive” behavior.
Community Development Director Micah Austin authored the ordinance language, based on a law proposed years ago in Idaho Falls, but not passed in that city. He said a hive that shows aggressive behavior can be “re-queened” in order to reduce the threat of stings from aggressive bees.
“If you get a mellow queen you can turn around your hive in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Burke recommended that the city keep the names of beekeepers skilled at removing bee swarms in case they leave hives and settle elsewhere, posing a risk to residents.
Under the new ordinance, neighbors can object to hives being placed near children with bee allergies.
Over the next few months, the Hailey Community Development Department will hold workshops to educate the public on these beekeeping standards, as well as on raising chickens, gardens, community gardens and orchards.
“We want everyone to be fully aware of the standards and of their opportunity to use their properties for urban agriculture,” Austin said.
In one year, the City Council will review the ordinance and determine if there are any changes necessary at that time.
In other Hailey news:
- The City Council voted to pass a fiscal year budget not to exceed $10.127 million, and voted to increase the remaining fiscal year 2013 budget by $830,000, primarily to pay for upgrades and proposed upgrades to the city’s water and wastewater systems.
- The council agreed to discuss in the future the possibility of changing the way sewer rates are charged, in order to see if a more equitable formula could be arranged.
- The City Council remanded for review an ordinance to the Planning and Zoning Commission that would allow for electronic signs in the city, as well as a new ordinance that would provide for an information overlay district that would allow electronic messaging signs at two places in the city, at the north end of town, and at the south end.