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Planning board preps for beekeeping issue
Public hearing on changes next week
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Forsyth County News

Next week’s public hearing before the Forsyth County planning board on proposed changes to the unified development code will include an ordinance on beekeeping.

During a work session Tuesday night, Planning and Community Development Department Director Tom Brown told the board he has heard from residents concerned about a neighbor’s backyard beekeeping operation.

Brown then explained the department’s decision to notify Nicholas Weaver in August that he was violating county code by raising livestock in a residential district.

"The [unified development code] defines livestock as a domesticated animal for profit or personal use, and we did our research and it was pretty clear that a honeybee as part of a beekeeping operation is a domesticated animal," Brown said.

"I feel pretty confident, and our legal staff agrees, and that’s why today we’re changing the ordinance. And if it was purely an administrative decision, we wouldn’t need to change the ordinance."

Weaver, who contends honeybees are not livestock, appealed the issue last summer through the county’s chain of command.

In January, the Forsyth County commission agreed to hold two public hearings on a proposed change to the code, which would exclude bees from the definition of livestock and allow beekeeping in every zoning district in the county.

Planning board member Joe Moses said he felt that some people had attempted to vilify Brown because of the decision about Weaver’s bees.

To Moses, however, the person who complained to the county about Weaver’s operation is "the one that was the real problem."

"And the funny thing about it is that never got mentioned anywhere," Moses said. "As a matter of fact, this is the first time I’ve ever heard it mentioned is me mentioning it now."

Brown said the complainant likely will address the board during the public hearing.

"Well, I’ve got a few choice words for her [or] him," Moses said.

Brown asked the board that after hearing residents’ concerns next week, they make sure that their recommendation is enforceable.

The board also discussed other changes to the code, which include timber harvesting requirements, home occupations and the definition of church.