Honeybee advocates succeed at changing ordinance

Patience and persistence with the process pays off

by Melanie Jongsma
From left: Krista and Tom McSwiggan and Richard and Diane Lund answered questions at the October 2 Committee of the Whole meeting as part of the months-long process of changing Lansing’s ordinance about honeybees and wild animals. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

LANSING, Ill. (October 20, 2018) – Tuesday night’s Board meeting included a vote to amend Article 1 of Chapter 10 of the Village Code regarding beekeeping. The vote was the outcome of a months-long process that was initiated by Lansing resident Diane Lund, who, as a member of the Beautification Committee and an avid gardener, is an advocate for honeybees.

Back in March, Lund discovered that Lansing’s Municipal Code of Ordinances includes instructions about animals, and Section 10-2 defines what a “wild animal” is. That section says specifically, “Chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, guinea hens, honeybees and turkeys shall also be considered wild animals.” Section 10-4 then prevents residents from owning wild animals.

Lund, who was considering beekeeping as a hobby, thought a fairly simple solution would be to simply remove honeybees from the list of “wild animals” in Section 10-2. She didn’t realize that even this seemingly small change would require hours of research about ordinances in neighboring towns, repeated participation in Village Board meetings, a field trip with Village Administrator Dan Podgorski, input from Animal Control Officer John Witvoet, and months of patience with the process of municipal government.

When Tuesday night’s vote came back unanimously in favor of changing the ordinance, Lund’s patience was rewarded. The amended ordinance now also includes a list of seven best practices for Lansing beekeepers to observe.

Trustee Jerry Zeldenrust said, “I would just like to add a word of appreciation for Diane Lund, for her patience and for all of the information that was provided to us as she researched this.” Zeldenrust considers the evolvement of the beekeeping ordinance a textbook example of resident participation in the municipal process for the good of the community.

“I want to thank this Board for their thoughtful consideration regarding the honeybees,” said Lund during Public Comment. “This will prove that this Board has in mind a modern view on ecology. And I’d specifically like to thank Mr. Dan Podgorski. He was tenacious, he was open-minded and willing to learn, and I believe his discussion with all of the Board will help me experience a new hobby. So thank you, everyone!”

In a follow-up text, Lund added, “Honeybees pollinate 30 percent of food crops in the US. Modern scientists encourage honeybee keeping by hobbyists to help with the diminishing honeybee numbers. Every Lansing resident benefits from this Board decision.”

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3 thoughts on “Honeybee advocates succeed at changing ordinance”

  1. So what about the rooster that wakes me up every morning? If I wanted to live in a farm, I would have!

  2. This is terrific for both the people and bees! It is a such a rewarding hobby and the town will benefit in many ways.

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