Friday, May 8, 2020

New Hanover Supervisors Have Birds and Bees Talk

Discussion at the New Hanover supervisor's meeting Thursday involved some talk of the birds and the bees.

No, it's not what you're thinking. It was all rated PG.

Rather, the supervisors were discussing actual birds, chickens to be exact, and actual bees, as in actual bees.

Several months ago, a resident brought a bee expert to the board meeting who told the supervisors that their zoning ordinance regarding beekeeping was unnecessarily restrictive.

The Asian giant hornet has been found in Washington State.
Given the threats honey bees, nature's finest pollinators, now face from disease -- and the latest, an Asian invader called the "murder hornet," no really, it bites the heads off bees! -- we should be doing all we can to help our bees.

Toward that end, the township staff and supervisors have been taking a look at the ordinance to see if a relaxing of the rules is warranted.

And under changes proposed by zoning officer Jim Wozniak, solicitor Andrew Bellwoar and township manager Jamie Gwynn, they would be.

Currently, the zoning code requires someone who wants to raise bees to have three acres of property.

The proposal is to change that to one acre, with a 50-foot setback from the property line. This would also apply to the raising of chickens.

"Beekeeping is already regulated by the state," said Bellwoar said during the meeting, which was conducted on-line due to the social distancing restrictions brought to us courtesy of COVID-19.

Both the raising of bees and chickens would remain under the township's agricultural section of the zoning code, under the proposal now being considered.

Supervisors Chairman Charles D. Garner Jr. asked if the ordinance would recognize a difference between "raising chickens and keeping chickens."

"It would all be under the umbrella of farming. It's not the same as having a dog or a cat," Bellwoar replied.

Bad rooster!
"Roosters can be a problem" because of the noise they make, said Supervisor Boone Flint. "They are not allowed in certain parts of Pottstown because of the noise."

They can also be very aggressive, said Supervisor Ross Snook.

"I like them because I like hearing them in the morning, but they have a two-inch barb and they will come after you," Snook warned.

"You wouldn't want to run into him in an open field," he said.

Bellwoar said he will put the suggestions into a proposed ordinance change and send it to the township planning commission for comment.

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