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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Minutes

Monday, July 14, 2014

The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at 12:00 p.m. in Room 151 of the Lausmann Annex on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Commissioners: Michael Zarosinski, David McFadden, Bill Christie, Bill Mansfield and Alec Schwimmer (arrived at 12:05).
Staff: Bianca Petrou, Kelly Akin, John Adam and Carla Paladino.
Guest: Jesse Botens
Subjects:         1. Discussion of possible beekeeping Code amendment (per citizen request).
John Adam, Senior Planner, reported that twice in the past few months a citizen has approached the City requesting that the Planning Department change the code to allow beekeeping as an urban use.  Staff is looking for the Planning Commission to either recommend initiation or put in on the next agenda for the Commission to initiate it as a Code amendment.  Mr. Adam reviewed briefly the public safety, utility, duty, nuisance, scope and scale of beekeeping.   
Commissioner Christie stated that he sees no use in beekeeping.  His store sells a lot of bee supplies.  It is an on-going adventure with the bee industry.  He does not know about bringing them into an urban setting.  He does not see the need.     
Commissioner McFadden commented that if beekeeping was regulated in an SFR-10 or greater area the probability of problems increase dramatically.  If a person has an acre of land in the City he may not be noticed.
Commissioner Christie reported that where he lives everyone has large lots.  It is a rural setting.  There are beehives in that area.  He is thinking of neighborhoods in general whether it is acceptable.  Bees swarm, the hives will move and they are agitating to see beehives in trees.  Some people are allergic to bees.   
Chair Zarosinski asked if the discussion was regarding people being able to put beekeeping in their back yards and rent them out or as a hobby.  Mr. Adam said he understood it to be for hobby purposes, but with the ability to sell their excess honey. 
Mr. Adam reported that Mr. Botens sent him an example of what some cities are limited to. Most cities limit it to three boxes; over an acre they were allowed no more than six boxes. A commercial operation would have hundreds or thousands of hives.  He has raised bees in urban Seattle.  They disburse four to five feet away.
Chair Zarosinski asked if beekeeping gets registered with the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Botens said varies by city and state.  Most recently Ashland required registration and Portland has a registry.  
Commissioner Mansfield stated that he tends to favor this.  Is there any data about the danger to people in neighborhoods?  Mr. Adam reported that he did not have any data at this time.  Mr. Botens also reported that he did not have any data. 
Commissioner Mansfield inquired whether honey bees’ swarm and attack people?  Mr. Botens replied that they do not swarm and attack people.  They swarm to procreate and split the hive. 
Commissioner Mansfield asked if there were a lot of folks in the area that would like to do this.  Mr. Botens replied that he has found a lot of support.  It is good for gardeners in the area.  He has noticed in the last several years there are less and less bees in the area.          
Chair Zarosinski state that there needs to be more information on beekeeping.  
Bianca Petrou, Assistant Planning Director, inquired whether there was a lot size minimum that Mr. Botens would suggest.  Mr. Botens replied that he supplied language as a starting point to Mr. Adam.        
Commissioner Mansfield commented that the Commission should initiate the code.  It is a healthy debate for the community. 
Commissioner Schwimmer agreed.  There needs to be reasonable management, lot size, best use and minimum issue regarding number of units.
Mr. Adam asked if this was the sort of item to put on the Planning Commission’s agenda consent calendar as an initiation or what?  Kelly Akin, Principal Planner replied that it is done all at once as an initiation and recommendation.  There would be a study session on the text before the public hearing.   
Commissioner Mansfield stated that if it goes to a public hearing he hopes that the proponents would bring data about health and safety that counter against the general fear that people have. 
Mr. Adam has contacted the Oregon Beekeepers Association to see what resources they have. 
Ms. Akin reported that staff had received Paul Shoemaker’s resignation on Friday, July 11, 2014.  He has moved out of the City.  
The meeting was adjourned at 12:27 p.m.
Submitted by:
Terri L. Rozzana, Recording Secretary

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