Sunday’s paper carried a letter from Patricia Wykoff in which she argued that our local government would be shirking from its duty to protect the citizens from the dangers of honeybees if it were to de-regulate beekeeping and no longer consider bees to be like livestock. She claimed that without specific laws regulating the keeping of animals and insects, the government would be without power to offer relief to a property owner who cannot reasonably enjoy and use his property because of swarms of angry or desperate and neglected bees housed on neighboring properties.
The law already has a solution to this problem, if (and only if) a real-life case comes up where there is a real problem and a real victim. The solution is a civil action in the courts, and the cause of action would be called «nuisance.» The law of nuisance is not specific to bees, or insects, or living creatures. It is a general and wide-sweeping doctrine that offers a remedy to fix an unfair and untenable situation where one landower (or tenant) is doing things on his land that seriously interfere with any neighbor›s right to use and enjoy his or her property, too.
The difference between a zoning ordinance and a nuisance suit is that the ordinance takes away your rights to do the activities of your choice on your property based on mere speculation that maybe there is some small chance that what you propose to do might harm somebody at some point in the future, but a nuisance suit requires that the problem actually exist then and there before the courts will step in and start issuing orders. That’s the way I prefer, because it is more respectful of liberty and freedom. Don›t try to take away my rights until you show that the way I›m exercising my freedoms is unreasonably interfering with you and your rights.
Gainesville (Forsyth Co.)