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BE Council updated on animal shelter

Also works to finalize the language on proposed bee ordinance

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Nov 22, 2020

Blue Earth mayor Rick Scholtes, right, explains a plan for distancing bee hives from occupied dwellings. Standing at the left is resident Jacqui Drew who had some questions about the new bee hive ordinance.

The Blue Earth City Council heard some big news from the Faribault County Humane Society during the council’s meeting last Monday evening.

The humane society has raised $90,000 towards the project of building a new animal rescue shelter.

“We desperately need a bigger and better building,” humane society member Debbie Johnson told the council. “And we have had a tremendous response to our plea for funds. We got a check for $22,000 in the mail and I nearly fainted, and then we got another one.”

Currently the humane society runs the animal shelter, and a Joint Powers Board, made up of representatives from several cities in the county, is in charge of the animal pound, which is then run by the humane society as well.

The current building itself is owned by the city of Blue Earth.

Next step is to determine who will own a new building and where it should be built.

“If the Joint Powers builds it there might have to be bids, but if the humane society owns it we could just hire a contractor to build it,” Johnson said. “Or maybe the city of Blue Earth has to own it.”

Mayor Rick Scholtes suggested the cost might be more if the city owns it, due to having to hire an architect and other added costs.

“If you want it built your way, then maybe you need to be the owner of the building,” he said. “Then you can get the building that you want.”

Johnson said they don’t need it to be elaborate, but they do want it “decent.”

“We need a separate area for dogs and one for cats, and an office space, and a place for the folks to pick up their adopted animal,” she said. “What we have now is so small people are amazed at what we have in one small space.”

Mayor Scholtes also had another suggestion for the location of the new building. He suggested a one acre lot owned by the city, located near the current animal shelter.

“It is further down the same street, Grant Street, farther south past Blue Ridge Apartments,” he said. “There would be lots of room there and the city could probably donate the land.”

Johnson also told the council how busy the volunteers have been, taking care of the animals.

“We actually had 20 cats last week, with 11 of them from Blue Earth,” she said. “It has been a record year for cats.”

Scholtes said the city would continue to work with the humane society on progress with plans for a new building.

Besides cats and dogs, another type of animal was also again discussed during the work session before the regular meeting was held.

The council discussed the proposed bee ordinance which would outline how residents would be able to keep bee hives on their properties.

The council had had a first reading of the proposed new ordinance at their last meeting, but had called for more discussion at this work session held on Monday.

Blue Earth resident Jacqui Drew was at the work session and questioned two items in the ordinance.

One had to do with terminology and the council quickly agreed to change it.

However, the other item had to do with the set back distance of the hive to any occupied dwelling.

“When I was here at the last meeting I thought that the 50 feet was going to be changed to 25 feet,” Drew said. She added that having a flyway barrier, of a fence or shrub, could keep the bees on certain routes even if the distance was changed to 25 feet.

Mayor Scholtes suggested the language could be changed to 50 feet from any occupied dwelling except it could be within 25 feet of the hive owner’s house.

“I don’t think a neighbor is going to be too happy if the hive is closer to the neighbor’s house than to the hive owner’s house,” he said.

In the end, and after much more discussion, it was decided to keep the language in that the hives had to be at least 15 feet away from any property line, and add that they could not be closer to the neighbor’s house than to the hive owner’s house.