Cary council OKs beekeeping in community gardens

aspecht@newsobserver.comSeptember 28, 2013 

— Bees may soon find more hives in Cary.

The Town Council on Thursday voted 5-2 to allow hives in community gardens, as long as the property owner grants permission and someone registered with a local or state beekeeping association agrees to maintain it.

It was council’s second vote to expand beekeeping rules in the last year. Before last October, beekeeping was only permitted as a farming activity. The board then voted to allow the hobby on residential lots bigger than 0.14 acres.

Councilwoman Lori Bush thanked town staff for recommending the amendment. “A number of community gardens” said they felt left out of last year’s discussions, she said.

“I think it’s an equity issue,” Bush said. “We already have bees in so many community gardens.”

Community gardens must abide by the same rules as residents, said Ricky Barker, associate planning director. They can have no more than two hives between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet, and beekeepers must pay a one-time $50 fee to get a permit. Hives must be at least 10 feet from property lines.

Councilman Ed Yerha voted against amending Cary’s beekeeping rules, partly because he wanted hives at least 20 feet away from property lines. Yerha said he feared the bees would come into contact with passersby on nearby sidewalks.

“I think we’re creating a problem here that we don’t want,” Yerha said, adding that he hadn’t seen a “groundswell of support” for changing the rules.

Councilman Don Frantz echoed Yerha’s concerns, although he supported the change. He said the amendment gave him heartburn because community gardens may not be monitored as closely as hives in residential areas.

“I’m not so sure that somebody’s at a community garden daily. If a hive’s knocked over, it could be hours before that’s discovered,” Frantz said.

On a recommendation by Frantz, the board left out a proposed amendment that would allow beekeeping in open-space areas shared by homeowners or a homeowners association.

Councilman Jack Smith, meanwhile, joined Yerha in opposing the amendment.

“We’re trying to accommodate a rare exception,” Smith said. “I’m not comfortable taking the risk.”

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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