No hives in this Beehive State city; Roy council worries about safety in residential areas

Nov 20 2010 - 12:33am

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ROY -- Utah's nickname is the Beehive State, but that doesn't mean beehives are universally loved. There will be no buzz in residential zones here after the city council earlier this week denied a petition to allow homeowners to keep bees.

The denial came after the planning commission recommended denying the approval, but there was much discussion about the issue.

City Planner Jared Hall said the planning commission held a public hearing on the matter and also had a healthy discussion regarding the issue.

One commissioner even wanted to table the measure to get more information, but in the end, the commission just decided it wasn't a good idea, Hall told the council.

Councilman Michael Stokes agreed that more information was needed.

He noted that New York City and Salt Lake City had recently started allowing beehives in densely populated residential zones and he would like to see some information on how that is working in those cities.

Councilman Dave Tafoya didn't agree. "We already have permitted uses (of beehives) in some zones. If we allow it in smaller lots, we are opening Pandora's box," he said.

"I think Pandora's box is already opened," said Councilman Willard Cragun. He was referring to the city's loose interpretation of how many cats can be allowed in residential areas.

The city does allow beehives in its agricultural zones, which are mostly on the west side of the city.

Councilman Larry Peterson said he has spoken with a beekeeper who suggested allowing hives in residential zones was a mistake.

"Bees always find the sweetest thing around, and sometimes they are gentle and sometimes they are not," Peterson said, adding he feels it is a safety issue for residents.

Councilman Brad Hilton agreed. He had done much research on the Internet and found that bees need a lot of water. His concern is that they will find the water wherever they can, including in a neighbor's yard.

"I'm just not sure I'm willing to venture out with this," Hilton said.

The council voted down the measure, and one resident spoke out in frustration.

"I am a beekeeper, and I think you are very incorrect in your information," Tosh Farr said.

He doesn't see that bees bother anyone at all and said beekeepers keep good track of their bees.

"Unless you chuck rocks at the hives, they won't bother anyone," he said.

He has noticed that his garden did not thrive like it should because of the lack of bees. He noted that bees are necessary and should be allowed in residential areas.

"People who grow gardens need bees," he said.

"Well, you can have bees in Roy, just not in residential areas," said Mayor Joe Ritchie.

He noted there are plenty of bees in the city despite whether organized hives are allowed.

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