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Islip mulls code changes to contain bamboo

Bamboo, a fast-growing invasive plant that originated in

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

Bamboo, be gone!

Following on the heels of Smithtown's new bamboo-banning law, Islip Town plans to give its residents until Jan. 1 to rid their properties of any potential for trespassing by the invasive plant.

The town board voted Wednesday to hold a public hearing to consider changing the town code so that homeowners will have to maintain a 10-foot setback for any bamboo planted on their properties to prevent unwanted encroachment.

Violations would be punished by a fine ranging from $250 to $2,000 or 15-day imprisonment under the proposed amendment. The town would rely on neighbor complaints to enforce the new law. Islip does not plan to hire any extra enforcement personnel, said councilman Steve Flotteron, a Republican who proposed the measure.

Bay Shore resident Richard Soldinger Wednesday told the town board that two types of people plant bamboo: "someone who doesn't know it" to be invasive, and those who plant it deliberately "as a spite plant."

Soldinger, who has a 5-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, said bamboo encroaching from a neighbor's property means he has to check his backyard before letting the children out to play.

"It's extremely fast-growing, it's popping through my lawn as spikes," he said.

In an interview afterward, Soldinger said he was relieved the town was following Smithtown's lead, citing conversations he has had with residents there who had spent a lot of money trying to get neighbors to act.

"It'll go through a gunite pool, through foundations, it can crack concrete walls and pavement," he said. "We're very pleased the town is doing this."

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