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Homeowner told to remove honeybees, wants Springfield rule changed

A Springfield man wants a city ordinance to be changed after he was ordered to remove beehives from his property.

Stephen Chirico lives in the 700 block of South Fountain Avenue. He recently received a notice from the city that he needed to remove within 30 days his two bee hives that hold about 60,000 bees each.

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Livestock aren’t allowed within the city on properties that are less than three acres, said Stephen Thompson Springfield planning, zoning, and code administrator. According to city code, Thompson said, bees are considered livestock.

“I never thought a box of bugs would be considered livestock,” Chirico said.

Chirico checked city ordinances before building his hives, he said, but didn’t think the livestock rules applied to bees.

A neighbor called to complain about the bees, Thompson said.

“It is a code on our books so we’re forced to enforce that regulation,” he said.

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But moving the bees at this time of year could kill them, Chirico said. He worked out an extension with the city, so he has until the end of October to move the hives.

In the meantime, the city manager and staff have recommended Springfield city commissioners consider an amendment to the ordinance to allow for beehives, Community Development Director Shannon Meadows said.

City staff members are working on the language now, she said, and plan to have something for commissioners to consider in the fall.

Staff members also are looking into what regulations around the concentration of honeybees would be necessary to not overwhelm a neighborhood, she said.

An ordinance change would be best for Chirico.

“The ideal situation would be to keep them here,” he said.

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The bees benefit the neighborhood, he said, by pollinating local gardens. The hives also produce several gallons of honey, he said, much of which he gives away to neighbors and friends.

“I don’t know why someone called but as you can see they’re not in anyone’s way,” Chirico said. “They’re not harmful.”

The bees would only sting people if they were agitated, he said.

Another reason Chirico wanted to build the hives is because of declining honeybee populations, he said.

The city doesn’t want to harm the bees, Thompson said.

“We’re willing to work with the homeowner in this situation,” he said.

Thompson encouraged anyone with concerns about an ordinance to contact the city or speak at Springfield City Commission meetings.

“Codes are fluid and they’re able to be changed,” he said.

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