Long Beach property owners may no longer plant invasive or “running” bamboo but may maintain it and grow other species, after the City Council on Tuesday approved a rewritten ordinance regarding the nonnative plant.
The ordinance was reworded from the original outright ban on planting or maintaining all bamboo anywhere in the city to include a provision that permits residents to plant non-invasive bamboo and maintain any species of bamboo provided it “doesn’t encroach or grow onto any adjoining or neighboring property," reads the new law. The council voted 3-1 to adopt it.
Tuesday’s vote came two weeks after the council debated the original ordinance at the Aug. 7 meeting, in which members and residents alike questioned why bamboo had to be banned outright because some property owners irresponsibly allowed it to grow into neighbors’ yards, where it can damage their properties. They heard from several residents who supported the ban, saying everything from their gardens to sprinkler systems were damaged by neighbors' bamboo.
Long Beach joins a number of municipalities across Long Island that have banned or restricted the use of the nonnative plant, including the Town of Hempstead. The city’s new law allows homeowners to bring their bamboo-growing neighbors to court if the plant damages their properties, and violators will have 10 days to remove the bamboo or face a fine of $250 each subsequent day. The ordinance will take effect in three months.
“Most importantly, it still protects any neighboring property owner no matter what,” said Corporation Counsel Corey Klein about the revised ordinance. “If this bamboo of any sort should encroach upon their property, it must be removed or faces the charges at Long Beach City Court.”
Michael Fagen was the lone council member to vote against the newly written ordinance (Councilman John McLaughlin was absent) on the grounds that he would rather have the city mediate disputes among neighbors on this issue rather than have them settle their disputes in court.
“You’re going to have two neighbors that are sworn enemies,” Fagen said. “Why can’t we create some kind of mediation process out of this ordinance that forces neighbors to work together to come to a resolution?”
Corporation Counsel Corey Klein said that the legislation doesn't provide for a mediation mechanism because it represents an enforcement action. “In that sense, it would have to go before a judge," he said. " ... It is not in essence a civil issue that would go before an arbitrator."