State's help sought over destructive bamboo

Bamboo grows in the Town of Huntington on

Bamboo grows in the Town of Huntington on June 20, 2012. (Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin)

Huntingtown Town Board member Susan Berland, whose local bid to halt the invasion of destructive bamboo plants failed, is taking her case to state officials.

She will seek the state's help after having a proposed local law derailed twice this year. At Monday's town board meeting at 7 p.m., Berland plans to offer a resolution asking the state to add the invasive varieties of bamboo to any list it compiles of banned invasive species and plants.

After outcry this spring and summer from frustrated residents who say the plant has turned their lives upside down because of its troublesome nature, Berland sought a resolution that would regulate -- not ban -- the plant. But she failed to muster enough support from her board colleagues.

"If bamboo is added to the list it would mean the sale of bamboo would be banned by the state and regulated by the state," Berland said. "There would be no need for local legislation."

In July, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law a bill aimed at slowing the spread of invasive plant and animal species across the state. Starting in January the sale, possession or transportation of non-native species will be punishable by fines from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

A committee has been formed and will create a list of restricted species.

Berland's failed plan was to set regulations to establish a 10-foot buffer between new plantings of bamboo and the property line. It also would have required a property owner whose bamboo had migrated to a neighboring property to dig a 4-foot-deep trench and fill it with something such as concrete to stop its spread, Berland said.

In April, before it was voted on, Berland pulled the resolution from the agenda after board members Mark Cuthbertson, Mark Mayoka and Gene Cook said they would not support it. In June, she offered the resolution, which made it to a vote, but failed when Cuthbertson and Cook voted no and Mayoka abstained. Town Supervisor Frank Petrone voted in favor of the measure.

"Hopefully, I will be able to get the third vote on this," Berland said.

Cuthbertson said he doesn't have a problem with this latest proposed resolution.

Mayoka said he would like to see a local law banning the sale of bamboo.

"I am going to talk to Councilwoman Berland about proposing a new resolution to ban the sale of bamboo in the Town of Huntington," he said.

Cook did not return calls for comment.

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