Huntington hearing set for bamboo regulations

David Spellman bends a bamboo plant in his David Spellman bends a bamboo plant in his Melville yard. Spellman has been battling a neighbor and the Town of Huntington to regulate bamboo growth in their town. (June 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

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Huntington Town Board member Susan Berland hopes three times will be the charm for getting legislation on the books to regulate invasive bamboo in the town.

The first step was taken when a public hearing was scheduled for April 9, to hear the latest version of her plan.

In December, the board rejected regulations on the invasive species of bamboo for the second time, with some board members complaining the fines were too punitive and the laws would make it more difficult to sell houses with the plant.

"I'm very hopeful this will pass, being that any suggestions that were made to me, I incorporated," Berland said. "Hopefully, my colleagues will see that the people affected by this are not going away."

Berland, a Democrat, has adjusted the penalty and fee schedule and added a six-month moratorium on those fines to allow people with bamboo time to deal with it. She also put together a pamphlet on bamboo that includes information such as the different types of bamboo, tips on choosing bamboo and how to plant and care for it, and the various ways to dispose of the plant if you have it and don't want it.

The penalties will be $1,000 for planting or replanting bamboo; residents found to be maintaining, growing or failing to remove running bamboo will face a fine of $250 to $500. 

Berland said Smithtown's Republican Town Supervisor Pat Vecchio gave her an idea for her bamboo legislation when she received an unsolicited -- but welcome -- call from him. "He suggested the moratorium to make it more palatable for my colleagues to pass it," she said. "He had a three-month moratorium in Smithtown."

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The vote for scheduling the public hearing was approved 4-1 earlier this month, with town board member Gene Cook voting no. The April 9 board meeting will be at 7 p.m. at town hall, 100 Main St.

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