East Williston touts own bamboo ban

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

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An East Williston law controlling the spread of bamboo and other invasive species will let the village "fine-tune" enforcement, even if new state guidelines are imposed, the mayor said.

East Williston, which passed a law in November to allow it to regulate plants such as bamboo, has joined a growing number of municipalities seeking to control the spread of invasive species.

"We wanted to be clear with that, when we have our own legislation it enables us to fine-tune the enforcement," Mayor David Tanner said. "It enables us to come up with our own enforcement guidelines."

The state Department of Environmental Conservation held public hearings in December on proposed regulations for invasive species. DEC staff are reviewing more than 300 comments on the draft regulation, a spokeswoman said. The agency has until late December to make the regulations official.

East Williston has made it unlawful to plant or grow new bamboo on outdoor improved or vacant unimproved properties; poisonous species including poison oak and ivy must be controlled so they do not spread beyond premises.

Violations of the law are subject to a maximum fine of $350.

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Tanner said the rising number of complaints from homeowners led to the law.

"The challenge is at what point does the municipality [insert] itself in what would otherwise be neighbor-to-neighbor disputes," Tanner said.

The village has several laws dictating property maintenance, but nothing as specific as this one, Tanner said.

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Other municipalities such as Huntington Town and Northport Village have in recent years set similar regulations. The DEC says invasive species can degrade habitats; reduce the population of native fish, wildlife and tree species; reduce recreational opportunities and income; and cause crop damage and diseases in livestock and humans.

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