The Watertown Board of Health voted unanimously to approve a regulation creating Hen and Honey Bee permits Wednesday, as well as updating the regulation governing the keeping of animals.
Boston, and Somerville have passed similar regulations for hens and honeybees and Cambridge is currently looking into it, town consultant Donna Moultrup said.
The permit, which must be renewed annually, is designed to promote sustainability and local food production, a draft of the regulation read. Though residents can apply for the permits immediately, they won’t go into effect until May 1.
The Board of Health spent the past 2 years consulting with experts, as well as the Watertown Bee Committee as they developed the regulations, Board Chairman John H. Straus said.
“We are grateful for all of this input,” Straus said. “We wish to thank all of the people who have made the development of these regulations possible.”
Watertown residents Meghan O’Connell and Aravinda Ananda said they are excited about the regulation and are already planning on applying for a hen.
“You guys know I’m all for this,” O’Connell said.
Jeffrey Rosenberg said he was representing the group Friends of Bees, and said they didn’t think the regulation was necessary.
“We strongly continue to oppose any regulations, but that’s just partly our nature and our politics,” Rosenberg said.
One resident who did not support the regulation is Pat Gold, of Duff Street. She said that when she moved into Watertown in the 1960’s residents did have chickens, but didn’t do a very good job of controlling them.
“I was glad when they finally left,” Gold said.
Though the town was willing to accept Hens and Honey Bees, roosters are still not welcome, Moultrup said.
“Roosters are the things that cause so much racket,” Moultrup said. “So we don’t allow those.”
Moustrup said that she has received negative feedback from other residents, but said that if it turns out something is wrong with the regulation the Board can make changes to it anytime they want.
“We can come back to hearing, and come back and do this and change it,” Moultrup said.
Along with the new permit, the changes the board made to the keeping of animals regulation was pretty minor Moultrup said.
“The keeping of animals looks pretty much like it did before,” Moultrup said. “The language is toned down a little bit. It’s a little more relaxed, and it has a section now asking people to tell us how you know about keeping animals.
“If you’re going to keep a horse, or you want goats in your yard, how is it that you would even know how to do this?” Moultrup said.
Though people have to show they know how to care for an animal, the standard to prove that isn’t very high Moultrup said.
“It’s pretty relaxed,” Moultrup said. “We just need to know that you know what you’re doing.”