Watertown considering bee keeping ordinance

The city of Watertown is considering adopting a new beekeeping ordinance after a White Street resident recently brought forward complaints regarding a neighbor’s honey bees.

Kris Kinder, who lives on the 300 block of White Street, said her family has noticed an unusually high number of honeybees around its property during the 3.5 years they have lived in their home. Until recently, she said, the family simply tried to alter or cease its activities that attracted the bees, which Kinder said come from the hives kept in her neighbor’s yard.

However, after recently installing a saltwater pool, Kinder said the bees have swarmed in and around the pool, apparently attracted by the salt. She said three people have been stung, and she fears of the danger for those who suffer severe reactions to bee stings, including her husband.

Chapter 10 of the city’s code addresses the regulation of animals within the city, and already contains language that bans animals like chickens and pigs, and also states that “any other animal which is not listed explicitly above, but which can be reasonably defined as an exotic animal, shall be prohibited.”

However, that language leaves open to interpretation whether honeybees are considered exotic animals. Instead, Watertown’s town cop has responded to Kinder’s complaints by trying to enforce the city’s nuisance code, which prohibits “all other conditions or things which are likely to cause injury to the person or property of anyone.”

However, that law, too, is difficult to enforce, because law enforcement would need to actually witness the bees causing a problem, and be able to definitively link the bees causing the problem to the hives in the neighbor’s yard.

Kinder indicated that she isn’t necessarily opposed to beekeeping within city limits, or to her neighbors keeping bees. She told the council she simply wants an ordinance that would place certain requirements on beekeepers that would force them to be more responsible and courteous, such as taking measures to place saltwater on one’s own property to attract the bees and keep them from leaving the property.

Kinder said she was especially frustrated because she has complained in the past of numerous other animal violations on her neighbor’s property, including chickens and a number of dogs that exceeds the city’s limit of two. City administrator Luke Fischer said the property has been cited in the past for those violations.

The city council directed city staff to put together a draft of a bee keeping ordinance to be brought back to the council at a future meeting for review and potential approval.

 

In other business:

• The Council formally approved, for a second time, a Joint Powers Agreement with Carver County for the anticipated 2014 bridge project on the County Road 10 bridge over the Crow River.

The city council previously approved the JPA, only to revoke it two weeks later until some final details could be ironed out. After being approved by the Watertown City Council, the JPA, which calls for the city to pay roughly $1 million of the $4 million project, will go to the Carver County Board for approval.

However, even as the JPA gets finalized, the county and city are still waiting on a final permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The State Historic Preservation Office is still reviewing the permit and how it affects the historic elements of the 74-year-old bridge.

• The council directed staff to move forward with plans to fill in some of the ditches in the Community Park site to make the area more traversable, especially from a parking area along Street A into the park. It is estimated to cost about $8,000 to fill in the ditches and re-establish turf in the area.

 

Contact Matt Bunke at matt.bunke@ecm-inc.com

 
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