Friday, June 14, 2013

Bee-keeping ordinance considered in Hailey

Public hearing planned

Express Staff Writer

    The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public workshop sometime soon to learn more about urban bee keeping before proceeding with further discussion of a proposed ordinance that could bring honeybee hives to town.
    “The last thing we would want is a honeybee hive on every porch at Balmoral Apartments,” said Community Development Director Micah Austin after presenting a draft bee-keeping ordinance to the commission Monday. Austin said he drafted the ordinance after fielding several requests for information on the city’s bee-keeping laws.
    Austin said commercial beekeepers in the Magic Valley have contacted Hailey residents to see if they could bring hives to town and leave them in their yards in exchange for honey.
    “Bee keeping could provide economic opportunity for some people,” he said.
    Austin said the ordinance is based on a similar one developed in the city of Idaho Falls after a period of research and public comment. Austin said Idaho Falls aimed to establish a precedent-setting ordinance that other Idaho cities could follow, but decided after researching the possibilities not to adopt a bee-keeping ordinance at all.
    A few years ago, Hailey adopted an ordinance that allows for chickens in the city, for the purpose of laying eggs. Austin said there have been minimal complaints about chickens since the ordinance was passed.
    Under the proposed bee-keeping ordinance, no more than two hives would be allowed on city lots 8,000 square feet or smaller. Three hives would be allowed on lots from 12,000 to 20,000 square feet. Five hives would be allowed on lots of half an acre or more.
    Hives would be placed only in side yards or rear yards of residential lots, no less than seven feet from property lines, and not within 30 feet of any dwelling, porch, gazebo, swing set, swimming pool or playground equipment, unless the property owner has given written consent to do so.
    Only Apis mellifera bee species would be allowed, and no bees that are “Africanized,” which means they could be more aggressive and dangerous to humans.
    The commissioners took turns relating personal stories of bee encounters that led to stings, which resulted in a call for more information about bee keeping. Commissioner Owen Scanlon said he once encountered a beehive while mowing a lawn and ran two blocks before they left him alone.
    Commissioner Geoffrey Moore said he was stung as a kid after disturbing a beehive.
“I learned my lesson,” Moore said.
    The commission instructed staff to consult with beekeepers and gather more information before scheduling a public workshop at a time and date to be announced.
    Austin said public comment on the proposed ordinance would be welcome at any time. He can be reached at 788-9815.
In other Hailey news:
• The Planning and Zoning Commission plans to move the start of its meetings from 6:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., after holding a public meeting later this month to discuss the proposed change.
Tony Evans:

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