A homeowner in the 1100 block of Forest Lane in Bloomfield Township who was cited for having bees and hives on their property appealed to the township’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA), which heard the case at a public hearing on Wednesday, November 8, and approved the use.
The code of the charter for Bloomfield Township states that farm activities require a minimum of 40 acres of a continuous, unplatted parcel of land. The homeowners, Joseph and Melissa Srock, live on 2.2 acres. Their existing beekeeping use is located in their rear yard and is set back and screened with existing plantings, according to a notice posted by Patti Voelker, director of planning, building and ordinance in the township.
The Srocks received a notice of violations on July 13, 2017, from an ordinance officer in the township who wrote, “I have observed the bees and hives located on the property. Bees and apiaries are considered farm establishments...since your property does not meet the definition of a farm, you must apply for a variance f rom the ordinance through an appeal to our zoning board.”
The ordinance officer also wrote, “The Langstroth style structures used to house the bees and collect honey would also require approval as they are considered accessory structures.”
All accessory structures are subject to review and approval by the ZBA.
Melissa Srock wrote in her ZBA application that “We were not aware of the (40 acre) standard at the time we got the bees. We request to keep the bees in the current location, far from the neighbors homes or walkways or patios/decks. It is mainly also out of visual sight...Michigan is a free to farm state and we were not aware of this zoning requirement.
“Our family and kids got into beekeeping after taking a class at BCS (Birmingham Covington School). Upon investigation, it is environmentally friendly and a much needed resource to aid in bee population,” Srock continued. “We set the hive deliberately far from neighbors so there would be no impact. We keep bees as a hobby and not a business.”
The ZBA granted their request, allowing the family to keep operating the hive and beekeeping operation as is.