Thanks to the Indiana General Assembly, Greenfield city officials are left mulling over an ordinance regulating beekeeping within the city limits.
Earlier this month, the Greenfield City Council discussed an ordinance allowing beekeeping to comply with a new Indiana law that began July 1. Previously, the city banned beekeeping within the city limits, but the state law states cities and towns can no longer ban beekeeping.
With that said, Greenfield officials are looking to regulate several factors of the hobby, but not everyone is sold that the ordinance is necessary.
Both Keely Butrum and Mitch Pendlum voted against the ordinance, which passed 5-2.
Pendlum told Giant FM the ordinance is designed to protect the town.
“When the state came down and made a law that cities cannot stop people from raising bees, our attorney drew up an ordinance to protect the city, and that is how this ordinance was initiated. People have been raising bees, but there are hives in trees and near homes. Bees will find their own home unless you buy a hive with a queen. They are afraid if we spray for mosquitoes, we will kill the hives and this keeps us from a liability. We want to protect the town from possible lawsuits,” Pendlum said.
Council president Dan Riley echoed those sentiments.
“We had an existing ordinance that was invalidated by the legislature. We need to amend the ordinance that was on the books to make it legal, we want to assure the public is safe and we want beekeepers to be aware of city insecticide spraying practices,” Riley told Giant FM.
Under the ordinance, the city can limit the number of hives permitted on a property. For those with a lot size of 6,000 square feet or less, there will be two hives, and for those with a lot size between 6,000 and 7,2000 square feet, there can be four hives. The max number is eight hives for lots that are 12,000 square feet or more.
The ordinance also calls for a flyway barrier of at least six feet in height that shall shield any part of a property line that is within 25 feet of a hive, all hives must be at least 25 feet from any dwelling or primary structure and at least 10 feet from the property line, and every beekeeper has to register with the Indiana Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Etymology and Plant Pathology prior to April 1., and register with the city’s clerk-treasurer.
Pendlum said the idea behind the registration is so the city can alert beekeepers of when the town is going to spray for mosquitoes.
However, he said he agrees with beekeepers and others who say it is an overreach.
“It is absolutely an overreach. We have raised bees in my family and have people here in town that raise bees, and we haven’t had to do anything like this in the past,” he said.
Riley, however, disagrees.
“Public safety concerns are not an overreach any more than speed limits or stop signs,” Riley told Giant FM.
The council opted to form a committee to discuss the ordinance.
Riley said the committee has to act.
“We have to do something because of an obsolete ordinance. State law permits beekeeping, and we cannot prevent it,” he said.