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Yonkers To Vote On Residents Having Chickens, Bee Hives

The Yonkers City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to allow chickens and bees to be raised within city limits.
The Yonkers City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to allow chickens and bees to be raised within city limits. Photo Credit: Flickr user Pinti 1

YONKERS, N.Y. – The buzz over bees is growing in Yonkers.

City Council members will vote Tuesday on a pair of ordinances that would allow permit holders to raise chickens and bees within city limits.

That is welcome news for residents like Eileen O’Connell who say they are excited about the idea of being able to raise honey bees and poultry in their backyard.

“I have been more and more interested in raising chickens,” O'Connell said. “I have friends who have some, and live in others towns, and it’s very doable.”

The City Council has been debating the ordinance changes for months after the Yonkers Planning Board unanimously approved the proposals in September.

Supporters say it would increase sustainable food options, while providing environmental benefits and educational opportunities.

In the case of bees, O’Connell said they can help pollinate plants around the neighborhood in addition to making honey.

“Flower production, fruit and tree health, all kinds of things,” she said of the benefits of bees. “They are instrumental in being healthy, for all the plants.”

Laura Fahrenthold, a member of City Council President Chuck Lesnick office and the city’s Green Policy Task Force, said there has been a movement around the country toward sustainable practices – both with chickens and honey bees.

“Yonkers is joining the movement and minimizing the distance from farm to plate,” she said.

Republican members of the City Council, however, have been outspoken against the idea. They say there is a potential for negative effects that raising poultry and bees in crowded Yonkers neighborhoods could have on nearby residents.

As a result, the City Council has made various changes to the proposed ordinance, including limiting residents to four bee hives and a maximum of six chickens. They have also capped the number of permits the city will hand out for each to 24.

Fahrenthold said that after doing an informal survey of various cities and towns around the country, she believes Yonkers will likely see interest from just a handful of residents.

“It’s not likely that Yonkers is going to become Chicken Town, USA,” she said.

If approved, the ordinance allowing the bees and chickens will expire in two years, with no additional permits handed out unless the City Council renews the plan.

Council members will vote on the proposal Tuesday at the 8 p.m. meeting in City Hall.

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