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Beehives stir buzz at Bethlehem planning board

A proposed beehive on Ursula Bauer's Delmar property at 200 Winne Road will be subject to a swarm of restrictions imposed by the Bethlehem Planning Board.

On Tuesday, Aug. 21, the board approved Bauer's site plan to locate beehives on her property with three specific amendments attached. A 6-foot high wooden fence around Bauer's back yard will have to be installed along with a 40-foot setback in front of the hives and a fully replenished water supply for the bees to use before the hives can be located on the site.

Bauer's hives currently sit on property in Glenmont as she considers her options.

The newly passed restrictions are part of the town's comprehensive plan allowing for several measures to occur in a residential neighborhood for the production of honey from bees deemed an agricultural use.

Chairman of the planning board Parker Mathusa originally wanted Bauer to install a second fence closer to the hives within the 6-foot enclosed yard fence, but members of the planning board objected to that measure.

This is a very restrictive proposal, said new board member Kate Powers. "I see a huge disparity and no record reflecting problems in unregulated hives."

Several beekeepers from Bethlehem attended the planning board meeting to support beehives on Bauer's property, but those same landowners do not have to conform to the new set of standards.

"I want a double level of security outside the fence for securing kids from coming into the yard," said Mathusa.

Bauer told the board that if a second fence were mandated, she would no longer have the resources to transfer the hives from their current location to her yard.

"Addressing perceived safety issues can be difficult since they are not founded in reality," Bauer said.

Board member John Smolinsky said he favored the beehives on Bauer's property, but, like Powers, he objected to the second fence within a fence.

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