Yonkers City Council Puts Birds And Bees Vote On Hold

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The Yonkers City Council held off on a vote Tuesday to allow residents to raise chickens and bees in city limits. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons User Amity Beane

YONKERS, N.Y. – Those farm-fresh eggs will just have to wait.

The Yonkers City Council opted Tuesday to hold off voting on a pair of proposed ordinance changes that would allow permit holders to raise chickens and bees within city limits.

The decision came after more than two hours of input from community members and closed-door discussions among members of the City Council. 

Council President Chuck Lesnick, who, along with the three Democrats, voted in favor of sending the legislation back to committee sessions, said that after hearing residents' input, the Council needed more time to sort out the details.

“We heard a lot of comments tonight, both pros and cons, and we want to reflect on it and we can’t do that tonight,” he said as the meeting wrapped up around 10:15 p.m.

The Democrats’ decision to delay the vote drew the ire of Minority Leader John Larkin, who publicly scolded Lesnick. He and the other two Republican leaders, who have been adamantly against the ordinance, urged the Council to vote on the issue Tuesday and “get it over with.”

“Now, because there are serious concerns with it, and you purposely put this on the agenda knowing it was flawed, now you’re going to pull it and put it back in and force people to come back out again at a future date,” Larkin said. “To me that’s a disgrace and you should be ashamed of yourselves for making people come out in 5-degree weather to actually sit here for hours.”

The two proposed ordinance changes would have allowed permit holders to raise up to six chickens and four hives of honey bees with various restrictions. Before the Council’s vote, more than a dozen residents on both sides of the fence took to the podium to share their thoughts on the idea.

Like the Republican Council members, a majority of the speakers said they were adamantly opposed to the legislation, citing concerns of noise, smell, predators, pests and the potential for bee stings.

Many also said they feared having neighbors raising chickens and bees nearby could hurt property values.

“I’m dumbfounded,” said Gerry Esposito. “Are people knocking on the doors to come to Yonkers to raise chickens and bees?”

But others came to the defense of the feathered poultry and honey-producing insects. Charlie Hensley, who said he grew up with chickens, thought they wouldn’t cause any more of a nuisance then cats or dogs do.

“Six chickens are not going to break anyone’s back,” he said. “One hive of bees, two hives of bees are not going to break anyone’s back. The science does not support the fears here.”

As a result of Tuesday’s vote, the City Council will likely revisit the ordinance in committee meetings before putting it back on the agenda for a vote on a yet-to-be-determined date.

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