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Judge allows Racine County woman to keep her bees

Posted On Feb 11, 2015

RACINE — A Town of Dover woman can keep her bees after Racine County’s case against her was dismissed Wednesday in court.

“I feel overjoyed and so thankful,” said Debi Fuller, 58, a retired nurse. “The whole reason I did this was because I care about my bees and what they do.”

Fuller had kept thousands of bees in two hives in the backyard of her home on the 2100 block of Lakeshore Drive to help pollinate her organic garden and flowerbeds, but an ongoing dispute with a neighbor led to a complaint filed against her.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Office issued her a citation in June 2014 for zoning violations, which she had been fighting ever since, according to Fuller.

When she was cited, she was told Racine County ordinances only allowed honey bees to be kept in agricultural zones, not residential zones, she said. Fuller, however, believed the hives were permissible when she checked with the county before obtaining the colonies about two years ago.

Fuller described Wednesday’s court proceedings as deliberate and thoughtful as Circuit Court Judge Wayne Marik ultimately granted dismissal of her citation.

“What the court found was that there was nothing in the ordinances that said I could not have bees,” she said.

While she found support from other neighbors and Dover Town Board members, Fuller had faced a $367 fine and the prospect of having to get rid of her bees.

Fuller said she became frustrated because she felt she did everything right in checking with local government and neighbors before she bought the bees, but with a seven-month legal dispute now behind her, she can look forward to spring and the pollinating work her bees will carry out on her gardens.

“It’s going to look fabulous,” she said. “And my neighbor’s garden, too.”