Beekeeping Debate Continues to Sting in Port
While Port Washington Common Council members remain undecided whether an ordinance should allow beekeeping, the Plan Commission was given permission to research and draft regulations surrounding the activity.
While the Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday night gave permission to the Plan Commission to draft an ordinance regarding beehives within city limits, the council remained split on whether that ordinance should actually allow bees.
The discussion comes after Port residents Bethel and Mike Metz brought a beehive with thousands of honey bees to their home in the 100 block of East Ban Buren Street. The city told the Metzes to remove the beehive from their property, a demand the couple countered and an idea that has been under debate since.
Mayor Scott Huebner said he does not think the bees could cause a significant problem in Port Washington.
"My youngest son plays by the bees all the time," Huebner said. "He hasn’t been stung; he hasn’t noticed the bees. Neither has the playground attendants, or the principal. I don’t think we have a problem. A kid at Port Catholic has a better chance of getting hit by a car than getting stung by a bee."
Others were more critical. Although he didn't vote against drafting the regulations, Ald. Joe Dean said he thought the drafting could be a waste of time because he is leaning toward eventually voting against allowing the Metzes ability to keep their bees.
"I get the pollination, and the food chain, and the cool factor," Dean said. "Here’s where the conundrum comes in. Your right to swing your fists ends at my jaw ... Someday my, "yes" vote could lead to a Port Catholic kid getting stung and going into anaphylactic shock."
The Plan Commission will continue researching the issue before drafting regulations that could either allow or prohibit urban beekeeping in Port.
If the commission votes to allow beekeeping, possible regulations include a required distance between hives and a required distance from schools and playgrounds. The Metzes' home shares a block with Port Catholic School.
The city sent the Metzes a letter Oct. 7 telling them to remove their bees because of several violations under the city zoning code. After the Metzes and others made their case for keeping the bees, the Common Council decided to allow the Metzes to keep the bees while they sort out what to do.
Ald. Dan Becker also had doubts about the bees, but he supported drafting regulations in order to have a more educated discussion.
"I’m kind of torn on it," he said. "I want to see how we would regulate this, what our draft would look like, for further discussion."
The Plan Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 to discuss the regulations.