Babylon bamboo bill on tap for July

Bamboo, a fast-growing plant which originated in China, Bamboo, a fast-growing plant which originated in China, is favored by some homeowners as a privacy screen. Photo Credit: Missouri Botanical Garden

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The Babylon Town board next month will take up a bill restricting invasive bamboo that could result in fines of $500 a day for property owners who let it spread beyond their yards.

The bill comes in response to complaints from residents that Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said Tuesday were impassioned, if not widespread.

"It's a big deal to those who have to suffer through it," he said. "[Bamboo] can affect the foundations of your home. It can be dangerous to children playing in the yard -- as the root system grows, sharp roots can grow up."

Under the bill, certain kinds of clumping bamboo would have to be moved or trimmed to keep it at least 10 feet away from the property line, and any new bamboo would have to be confined to planters or behind barriers that stop the roots from spreading.

The town would give offending bamboo owners a month to comply before issuing a summons.

In cases where town property is "invaded" by bamboo, the town would take on the removal job itself after a month, and bill the property owner for costs.

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Gardeners sometimes use bamboo as a natural screen.

But about a dozen municipalities on Long Island have passed restrictions on the plant since 2011. Malverne threatened up to 15 days in jail for violating its law.

A state law passed last year prohibits the sale, possession or transportation of invasive species, giving the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Agriculture and Markets until this September to develop regulations and name regulated species. Bamboo is not currently on New York State's interim list of invasive plant species.

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