Bristol considers residential bee keeping ordinance

The Bristol Village is considering enacting an ordinance that would allow bee keeping within residential neighborhoods.

Current village law only allows bee keeping on land zoned for agriculture, which would be at least 10 acres in size in most instance, said village administrator Randy Kerkman.

At its April 25 meeting, the board heard from resident Dani Kozak Joy who with her husband would like to keep bees in their yard in a neighborhood just north of Bristol School.

“I think a lot of times bees get a bad rap,” Kozak said. “Honey bees are docile and gentle.”

Kozak said she and her husband are experienced hobby bee keepers and have hives near their former home in Kenosha.

Other residents expressed opposition to allowing bee keeping on non-agricultural land.

“If every newcomer expects to change our ordinances what a mess we’ll have,” said resident Kay Sharp, who focused on the idea that more bees in congested areas might increase the risk of people allergic to bee stings being stung. “Changing Bristol’s established bee keeping ordinance is not a good idea.”

At that meeting, the board decided to wait for further action until a petition calling for the change was filed.

Village Clerk Amy Klemko said a pro-bee petition was filed with the village with 169 signatures. Those signatures were gathered from all over Bristol, including ag and residential property owners.

A petition of residents against expanded bee keeping also was filed with the village with 13 signatures from the immediate neighborhood of the Joys, Klemko said.

The board took up the issue again Monday with an ordinance drafted by the village attorney and suggestions from Kozak for edits.

At Monday’s meeting, village residents again spoke for and against the ordinance during citizens comments. Supporters talked about the positive effects of encouraging bees and said the health risk was minimal because honey bees are not aggressive. Opponents largely focused on their contention that more bees in neighborhoods would increase serious health risks to those who are allergic to stings.

After audience comment and some discussion, Trustee John McCabe moved to approve the lawyer prepared ordinance with some of Joy’s changes and some of his own. That motion was seconded by Trustee Kris Kordecki.

McCabe said he felt the board had enough information Monday to make a decision.

“We’ve had six weeks,” McCabe said. “I don’t know what the delay is.”

Village President Mike Farrell asked how the board would decide between the two versions of the ordinance — the attorney draft and McCabe’s version. McCabe suggested going through his version point by point if necessary and holding a vote.

But some other board members seemed to want more time, including to review information submitted to the board earlier that day.

Eventually Trustee Ruth Atwood moved to table the matter and Trustee Chris Leker seconded. McCabe voted no to tabling.

“I am optimistic we can get this done at our next meeting,” Farrell said.


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