By Steve Rensberry, Editor
Bees, feral cats, and a change to the rules on residential refuge containers were among the discussion items at the Aug. 12 meeting of the Collinsville City Council.
Planning intern Jacob Hawkins presented the council with an extensive amount of research on the hobby of bee keeping, which is currently not permitted within city limits. A text amendment review process was begun over the summer and is expected to come before the council for a vote in the near future.
“Staff has become aware that there are multiple property owners within the city who actively keep bee hives as a hobby, to benefit to local gardens, or to generate honey,” An overview presented to council members states. “The text amendment is actively being reviewed by the Planning Commission. Once reviewed and approved, the text amendment will be routed to the City Council for final consideration.”
In his report, Hawkins provides background on the effort, stirred by a request from a local beekeeper to allow beekeeping in the city, an shares a Planning Commission proposal to make several amendments to the city’s zoning code to allow for and regulate bee hives.
Planning Commission members discussed the subject at its July 11 meeting, with subsequent input from State Beekeeping Inspector for Madison County Eleanor Schumaker, and Hilary “Corky” Schnadt from the Illinois State Beekeepers Association (ISBA).
Additional research was also gatherd from neighboring cities who allow beekeeping.
Under the proposal rules, the amount of beehives any propery owner could have would be restricted by lot size. These would be as follows:
— Lots size 1-10,000 square feet would be allowed 2 hives.
— Lots 10,000 sq. ft to 1 acres would be allowed 3 hives.
— Lots 1 acre and great would be allowed up to 5 hives.
Other possible limitations pertain to such things as set back distance, proximity to schools, and the type of housing or hives in which bees are kept.
The subject of how to handle feral cats centered around a program known as Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), which some residents have urged the city to adopt.
A overview of the city’s current practices presented to the mayor and council members from Collinsville Chief of Police Steve Evans and Lieutenant Eric Owen states: “Presently, our Animal Control Officers comply with policies designed to meet the needs of our residents while still treating feral cats in a humane way. Generally, we only trap stray or feral cats in response to complaints of residents. Most recently, feral cats were going under the skirting of a resident’s mobile home causing interior damage to the dwelling. After a request from this resident, staff deployed traps. When a cat is trapped, it is housed at our shelter for 7 days to allow the owner to claim it. If not claimed, the cat is assessed for adoption. If adoptable, it is neutered, vaccinated, and placed in an adoption program. If not adoptable, it is neutered, vaccinated, and transferred to a licensed rescue that places the cat on a farm where both shelter and food are provided.”
The cities of Alton and Belleville adopted a TNL policy, council members were told, as has St. Clair County.
Owens was asked what his own thoughts were on the subject, to which he replied that for several reasons he would move away from a TNR policy. Several on the council Aexpressed reservations as well.
Two area residents spoke about the program and the need for something to be done, one who said he currently takes care of 11 cats. Another resident, Dawn Hood, said she has worked with the Metro East Humane Society and other groups and that she support the program. She has probably trapped over 500-600 feral cats in Madison County since she became involved, she said. “I get calls ever single day over this.”
A proposed change to the city’s regulations on refuge containers was discussed, with staff currently requesting consideration of changes pertaining to how long such containers can be left out, and where they must be stored when not at the curbside.
“The City’s Code Enforcement division receives complaints on a weekly basis in regard to the blue refuse and recycling receptacles provided by Republic Services being stored in the roadway, on the curb, or in the front yard for an extended period of time beyond the dedicated waste collection pick-up day or permanently. While it may seem trivial, staff believes the proposed regulations are warranted based on the volume of complaints received,” a memo to council members states.
The proposed changes include a requirement that all carts be stored either within an enclosed structure or behind and established building line and not in the front yard. It includes a “flexibility clause” which gives the community development director discretion in cases where the lot is irregularly shaped, or where landscaping screens a cart from the roadway.
The changes would also restrict the time that a container could be set at curbside to no earlier than 24 hours prior to the scheduled pick-up day, and no later than 24 hours after the pick-up day.