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Hempstead passes quality-of-life measures

Hempstead Town Hall is at 1 Washington St.

Hempstead Town Hall is at 1 Washington St. in Hempstead Village. (Nov. 28, 2011) Credit: J.C. Cherubini, 2011

The Hempstead Town board unanimously approved three quality-of-life laws Tuesday, banning bamboo, prohibiting surfboard-type commercial signs and limiting glare from spotlights in residential areas.

The board held three separate public hearings on the laws during Tuesday's town board meeting. Only the law prohibiting the growing, planting and/or maintenance of bamboo was challenged by a town resident.

"I am seeking remedy from this [law]," said Nick Nanos, of Bellmore, who has had bamboo for 40 years. "Not all bamboo is bad."

Town officials said they were responding to complaints from residents who have had to deal with invasive bamboo encroaching on their properties from adjoining parcels and causing thousands of dollars in damage.

The problem is that the root structure in many types of bamboo tends to expand horizontally, making the plant difficult to maintain and more likely to cause damage to its surrounding area, officials said.

The bamboo ban will go into effect as soon as it is filed with the New York secretary of state, officials said.

Once it is filed, those who have bamboo on their property must come into compliance with the law, meaning they will have to get rid of it or face fines.

In April, Brookhaven Town held a public hearing about a proposed law that would penalize homeowners who plant it. Smithtown and some villages throughout Long Island already have similar laws.

The board also enacted a law banning "surfboard signs," often made of fabric attached to long poles, making Hempstead the first town on Long Island to prohibit the signs, officials said. The new law is to take effect Jan. 1.

"These signs are an advertising gimmick that constitutes a distraction to motorists, a hazard to pedestrians, a nuisance for neighbors and a potential source of danger to all who come across their path," town Supervisor Kate Murray said at the meeting.

The third law passed requires reducing "unreasonable" glare from outdoor spotlights and floodlights in residential areas. The legislation will go into effect Jan. 1.

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