Leland won’t set ordinance for bee keeping in town

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By Brian Slattery

Leland officials voted against adding bee hives rules to the town ordinances at the Jan. 16 town meeting.

The board members heard from Waterford residents who oppose bee keeping in the neighborhood at the Oct. 27 meeting, then received a rebuttal from bee supporters Nov. 21.

The town officials’ discussion on bees was postponed until new Councilman Bob Corriston was seated on the board, but Councilman Jon Tait asked in November if it would be easier to get Waterford to look at their policies rather than have the town take action.

In December, the Waterford Homeowners Association clarified they have rules in places against keeping bees in the residential neighborhood and required the residents who were raising bees to move their hives.

Leland’s planning department staff prepared an amendment to the town ordinances to allow bee keeping in residential areas, with limits – no colony would be allowed on a lot smaller than 20,000 square feet, or within 10 feet of a residence or property line, a constant source of fresh water would be required an only three bee hives on lots smaller than one acre, only six bee hives on more than one acre.

“This limits the number of bees based on the size of a lot. It is simple and straightforward,” Planning Director Robert Waring said.

Waring told the board the ordinance was only for domestic beekeeping, not for commercial or large beekeeping operations and would be contained in the animal control ordinance, so enforcement would fall to the town’s animal control officer.

North Carolina State University Entomology Professor John Ambrose spoke to the board about regulations he recommended to the Town of Cary and beekeeping supporters and enthusiasts from Leland and New Hanover County spoke in support of allowing beekeeping without severe limits.

But the Waterford HOA’s handling of the bee problem within the neighborhood swayed the town board members more than the planners or public comments.

“I question if this is really a problem for the town. If we need to take care of this or if neighborhoods should take care of this,” Mayor Brenda Bozeman said.

Mayor Pro Tem Pat Batleman agreed that the specific issue that brought up the question of a bee-keeping ordinance was taken care of by the Waterford HOA and she said she hasn’t heard from any other Leland residents.

“We have a nuisance ordinance in place. If there is a problem, that could be (used to address it),” Batleman said.

Councilman Jon Tait agreed that a nuisance ordinance complaint would suffice if residents have a bee problem.

Batleman also had questions about placing lot size and number of beehive limits on town residents.

“At this time I think this is premature. There are still farms, there are still large lots (in Leland) and this affects the whole town. I’d like to let the HOAs handle this in (their) neighborhood,” Batleman said.

Councilwoman Jane Crowder countered that not every neighborhood in Leland has an HOA.

But the council members voted unanimously, 4-0, to refuse the bee-keeping ordinance.

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.