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The Hot Button

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The issue: The city of Pittsburgh has proposed changes to the Urban Agriculture Ordinance, which regulates growing and selling food within city limits as well as keeping small animals like chickens and bees. To keep chickens, city lots would have to be at least 3,000 square feet; a maximum of four chickens could be kept on a 4,000-square-foot lot. For bees, there must be 2,500 square feet for each hive and hives must be kept at least 15 feet away from property lines.

Why you should support it: It clears up language in current ordinances. For example, urban farmers will now be allowed to sell produce that they grow on land smaller than five acres -- something not permitted under previous provisions.

Why you should take to the streets against it: Although they call it an unintended consequence of the ordinance, Burgh Bees -- a group of about 375 beekeeping enthusiasts -- says the ordinance effectively bans beekeeping in neighborhoods where it has been conducted safely for years. Would-be chicken farmers may face similar headaches. Plenty of homes in the city -- especially in old working-class neighborhoods -- are built on lots less than 20 feet wide, and under 2,000 square feet. Burgh Bees members say they aren’t against new regulations, but have proposed more flexible rules they’d like to have considered.

How can you sound off: The Pittsburgh Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the changes at 2 p.m. on Tue., Feb. 16, at 200 Ross St., Downtown. Burgh Bees is also hoping supporters will send supportive e-mails to city planners at jason.kambitsis@city.pittsburgh.pa.us.

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