Don Quixote Charges Headlong Into Another Dead End!

Our local Don Quixote is at it again, but instead of chasing windmills, he’s once again chasing his tail engaging in stagemanship instead of statesmanship. The subject this time is the Card Family Farm and the bees that reside there as a vital part of the Merrimack Valley Apiary. You can watch his video plea here:

It seems a neighbor – one of 40,000 residents is experiencing bees pooping all over their property and no one else’s. Selectman Simolaris is once again running around with his camera making nonsensical videos to document the atrocities he sees in Billerica so that he can ride in on his white horse and save the day.

It never dawns on Mr. Simolaris that there are processes that govern such things and processes that are available to resolve such disputes. In this case, which is a legal one, the complainant filed a complaint with the Board of Health. The Board of Health ruled a public safety hazard exists and ordered a cease and desist notice and a warning that if ignored, fines will be forthcoming at a rate of $1000.00 per day.

This means the only option left to the Apiary is to file for an injunction in the courts and sue for the right to continue their business operations which have been ongoing for three generations. Without an injunction, they must remove the bees (at least long enough to prove the poop is not from their bees, but more likely, forever) or pay the fines. It is that simple.

With an injunction they can consult with an attorney, entomologists specializing in bees and investigate both state and federal regulations regarding the promotion of Apiaries in the Commonwealth and across America (See: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/farm-products/apiary/). While I sympathize with Mr. Simolaris’ view on the matter, once the Board of Health ruled, the matter is out of the hands of town government unless ordered to reconsider by the courts and that can’t happen without legal action being undertaken by the owners of the farm/Apiary.

A competent Selectman would become steeped in gathering helpful information and seeking legal counsel on behalf of the town. He would recognize the truth of the matter as it is and advise constituents to use state and federal law as best they can. A competent Selectman may advise the Apiary to seek approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals to continue operating as they have for three generations by recognizing the history and importance of the farm to the town and authorize grandfather status to the business.

Regardless of the tactic chosen, the least effective one is making a video documenting righteous indignation over a legal situation that can only be resolved through the courts themselves and not the court of public opinion.

I happen to believe that bees are more important to this community than a single homeowner, and if push comes to shove, perhaps, our intrepid but inept Selectman may want to work on a deal for the town to buy out the homeowner or to pave the way for the Apiary to do so but taking the land under eminent domain in the interest of sustaining a healthy bee population and all that entails in relating to and preserving our local ecosystem.

But, as usual, Mr. Simolaris is caught between not knowing what to do and because of his ignorance and lack of understanding of how government works and the governing rules that guide it, he invariably chooses a tactic that fails and a method that creates divisions instead of improvements.

Mr. Simolaris may want to get his hormone levels checked to see if they are running normally. Hysteria has never solved a problem nor has it made any aspect of the world or local community a better place.

"Don Quixote Charges Headlong Into Another Dead End!", 4 out of 5 based on 8 ratings.

1 Comment

  1. Rick,
    I was wondering when this topic would make your blog. I can add some context that describes the involvement, or rather, the aligned lack there of, regarding the BOS.

    The original “complaint” was raised at one of the neighborhood meetings in June. As is done each year, all comments made at these annual meetings are logged on a spread sheet, and disposition is managed by the town manager. I can tell you that each person is contacted with a response. It may not be the response they were seeking, but Mr.Curran and his team do close the loop.

    In the BOS meeting following the neighborhood sessions we agreed the “list of concerns” once again resided with the town manager. We did ask to be keep appraised, especially regarding this situation, particularly if during discussions it was determined we need a policy, zoning, or by law change.
    Since then, both families involved have reached out to multiple selectman.

    I have talked with each party. I do expect the town manager and his team will develop a mutually acceptable solution that both protects a long standing business, as well as a concerned home owner. Though it is not appropriate for me to share details of my conversations, I will tell you that much of what has been stated on social media is factually inaccurate. I also believe that because the situation is now even more charged with emotion, that the town (not the selectman) must play a role in facilitating an agreement, which I fully expect will occur.

    I am appalled, but not surprised, that Selectman Simolaris published a video that inflames the situation by pitting two neighbors against each other. In my opinion, this is not leadership.

    Best
    John

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