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Bamboo to still grow in Long Beach

Long Beach has balked at the chance to become the latest Long Island municipality to ban bamboo.

The City Council voted down a ban on the often-invasive plant Tuesday night by a 3-2 vote. The decision kept Long Beach from becoming at least the ninth city, town or village on Long Island to put a halt to the use of bamboo.

Homeowners sometimes plant bamboo for aesthetic purposes, but the plant can spread into adjacent areas and damage foundations, roots and sidewalks.

The city considered the ban in response to about a dozen residents' complaints about bamboo encroaching on their properties, City Council president Len Torres said.

Torres said the ban was rejected because the council wants to revise the legislation so it doesn't penalize residents who grow bamboo responsibly. A revised law will be considered at a future meeting, he said.

The city needs a law that "protects people that are compliant to their neighbors and their neighbors' properties," Torres said.

Long Beach's proposal, which was the subject of a public hearing Tuesday night, would make it illegal to "plant, grow and/or maintain bamboo" anywhere in the city.

The proposal stated that each infraction would carry a $250 penalty. The measure follows the lead of a Smithtown law -- the first townwide or citywide ban on Long Island -- that took effect on Jan. 1 and bans bamboo within 10 feet of a grower's property line.

Resident Catherine Northrop attended the public hearing with a stalk of bamboo she said she ripped from her yard. Bamboo spikes from a neighbor's property have pierced her lawn and prevent her grandchildren from playing in the backyard, Northrop said.

"Bamboo is an insidious plant that has no place in our community," Northrop said.

But Francis McQuade chided the proposal as "governmental overreach." He added that bamboo can enhance landscaping if maintained properly.

City manager Jack Schnirman said the city is looking to respond to a regional trend of bamboo bans.

"We've been gathering information about bamboo from throughout the state," he said. "It's a very interesting proposal that's going on all over the place."

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