The Huntington Town Board voted Tuesday to require homeowners to control running bamboo so that it won't spread and damage the property of others.
Councilwoman Susan Berland had pushed for the restrictions for more than a year, after hearing horror stories from property owners who had battled the spread of the invasive plant. Her efforts failed until Councilman Mark Mayoka joined her and Town Supervisor Frank Petrone in approving the measure.
Under the new law, owners with running bamboo planted on their property will be responsible for either removing the bamboo or taking reasonable measures to confine the bamboo to their own property and to prevent the encroachment, spread, invasion or intrusion of bamboo onto adjoining or neighboring properties. There is a six-month moratorium to clear and/or contain the bamboo before any penalty provisions begin.
After the moratorium expires, then penalties kick in, including a $1,000 fine for planting and/or replanting running bamboo and fines of $250 to $500 for failure to remove or contain bamboo.
"Thank God somebody else is using common sense to help homeowners with this problem," a resident said to Mayoka after he announced his decision to support the bill, before she added a thanks to Town Supervisor Frank Petrone who had supported it all along.
“As many are well aware, bamboo can be unruly and invasive when planted improperly and it is of the utmost importance that running bamboo be properly contained,” Berland said. “I appreciate the feedback from my colleagues that finally culminated in the passing of this bamboo ordinance. I would like to thank the residents that continually attended board meetings to voice their support for a bamboo ordinance in the Town of Huntington. If anyone is looking for more information about bamboo or how to properly contain and maintain it, I published a pamphlet entitled ‘Planting Bamboo: The ins and outs of responsible bamboo ownership’ and it is available on the Town’s website.”
The issue has come before the board several times, with residents taking sides. One woman who spoke at the hearing before the vote insisted that the matter was one for neighbors to work out.
But numerous speakers, including some Tuesday night, have described the high costs and lack of success at keeping bamboo shoots from spreading and damaging their property. One man said he had spent more than $16,000 to try to keep his neighbor's bamboo from taking root on his property.
And Joanne Walsh of Greenlawn, who has advocated for controls, said her neighbor had refused to do anything about his bamboo spreading to her property. "People don't want to do anyting. I went to my neighbor who said, 'No, I like it,' but I don't want it," she said. "It's absolutely fantastic that they approved this--I thank Susan Berland, Mark Mayoka and Frank Petrone."
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“The invasive nature of bamboo on residents’ property and in their lives was well documented in photos submitted to the Town Board and in the stories residents told at Town Board meetings,” Petrone said. “This ordinance allows residents to plant what they want on their own property, but makes it clear that they cannot adversely affect their neighbors. I supported this proposal from its inception, and I commend Councilwoman Berland for her persistence and flexibility in fine-tuning her proposal so it can become law.”