ASHLAND — The Ashland City Council has given initial approval for new laws that will make it easier to keep rabbits, miniature goats and some fowl in town, but asked its staff to propose a permitting process for backyard beehives.
The set of new regulations is due to come up for final approval as early as Aug. 20.
Currently, beehives must be kept at least 150 feet from a neighboring house, street or sidewalk. Most backyards measure less than 150 feet across, putting legal beekeeping out of reach for many residents.
Proposed new rules would allow three beehives on lots that are less than 1 acre and five hives on larger parcels.
If the hives were within 25 feet of a property line, the owner would have to maintain a flyway barrier — such as a wall, fence or dense vegetation — at least 6 feet tall parallel to the property line.
"You're going to put some people at risk," City Councilor Dennis Slattery said at Tuesday's meeting about the proposed loosening of rules on beekeeping.
Bees can prove deadly to people who are allergic to stings.
Councilors voted unanimously to ask staff members to prepare a potential permitting process for beekeeping.
Such a process would help educate would-be beekeepers about regulations, while also providing a warning to neighbors that hives are proposed in a neighborhood, some councilors said.
Councilors are considering new laws on the keeping of bees and small livestock because of growing interest in local food production and self-sufficiency. They also want to limit potential negative impacts on neighborhoods.
Under the proposed new regulations, roosters, geese and peacocks — which tend to be noisy — would be prohibited.
A resident could keep five adult and five juvenile chickens, quail, pheasants, pigeons, doves or muscovey ducks on a parcel of less than 5,000 feet.
One additional adult bird plus one additional juvenile would be allowed for every additional 1,000 square feet.
The new standards include rules for rabbits, miniature goats and turkeys on parcels that measure less than one acre.
Six adult rabbits would be allowed, plus their offspring until the young are weaned.
Two miniature goats would be allowed, plus nursing offspring until the baby goats are weaned.
Solitary miniature goats would not be allowed and males would have to be neutered.
Two adult turkeys and two juveniles could be kept.
A resident could keep a maximum of 10 small livestock animals on a lot measuring up to 5,000 square feet.
Two additional animals could be kept for each additional 1,000 square feet of land area, up to a maximum of 20 animals.
The new standards also include a number of provisions regarding animal enclosures.
Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.