McDONOUGH – A proposed regulation that would have allowed residents to keep beehives in their backyard was defeated amid safety concerns.
The Henry County Board of Commissioners voted down the so-called “hobby beekeeping” ordinance 4-2, with Johnny Wilson and Gary Barham voting in favor of the ordinance.
The ordinance in question would have allowed residents to keep two beehives per quarter acre of land, but commissioners expressed both a desire to learn more about the way beekeepers maintain their hives, a concern over hives existing in residential subdivisions and a desire to see the minimum acreage of land increased for beehives.
According to Gerri Yoder, director of animal control for the county, the proposed hobbyist beekeeper’s ordinance was similar to ordinances in other areas, such as DeKalb County, Fulton County and Chatham County in coastal Georgia.
However, there was concern from members of the BOC about bees wandering off into other residential properties and becoming a nuisance.
Bruce Holmes and Dee Clemmons went on record in opposing the ordinance in residential subdivisions. Holmes called it a potential “invasion of privacy” as bees flew out into other residential lots, while Clemmons worried about the way children would react if bees flew towards them.
“If they cannot put this in subdivisions, I’d be OK,” Clemmons said. “When the bees start to come, kids don’t know not to run.”
Supporters of the ordinance stated that those that keep bees are not going to want to keep aggressive bees, but rather a gentler hive led by a gentler queen. In addition, supporters also said restrictive devices were also required in the ordinance to keep bees from wandering off.
A water supply would also be required, which could prevent bees from wandering in search of water.
Also attached to the beekeeper’s ordinance were several provisions concerning dangerous dogs. Those provisions were also defeated.
Retractable leashes would have been prohibited for dogs off their owner’s property, and the annual certificate fee for dogs deemed “dangerous” and “vicious” would have been increased as well.
The certificate fee for “dangerous” dogs, or dogs that have caused “a substantial puncture of a person’s skin by teeth without causing serious injury,” those that “aggressively attack in a manner that causes a person to reasonably believe that the dog posed an imminent threat of serious injury to such person or another person although no such injury occurs,” or those that kill a pet animal off owner’s property, according to the county code, would have gone from $100 per year to $500.
The certificate fee for “vicious” dogs, or dogs that have caused serious injury to people, would have gone from $100 per year to $1,000.