A few months ago I met local beekeeper Russel Schaffer. He was bummed that the city denied him a permit to keep his two bee hives after his neighbor complained that they got stung and had family members allergic to bee stings.
Shaffer’s a good guy, and the youngest-looking 75 year old I’ve ever met. His son is also Newark’s former fire chief. But I told him that I couldn’t do a story since it was so obvious that he didn’t have a leg to stand on. He violated city code by getting the hives without a permit. And when he sought the permit — after his neighbor complained about getting stung — the cops had little choice but to deny it based on the city code that makes a neighbor’s complaint grounds for denial. An Argus story would have had a headline out of The Onion, “Man violates city code, complains about it.”
But what do I know?
Shaffer appealed his case to the City Council today, and council members voted 4-1 for him to get the permit, even though he got the bees in violation of city code. I asked one city official about the outcome. He gave the old saying, “Sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”