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Experts testify at Oyster Bay Town bamboo rule hearing

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

A public hearing Tuesday on proposed bamboo restrictions in Oyster Bay Town morphed into an informational botany lesson as arborists, landscapers and other experts advised officials on crafting a law.

Speakers portrayed bamboo, particularly the invasive “running bamboo,” as an aggressive and formidable force.

“Bamboo will grow up and down and up and down again and keep on going,” Steve Greenspan, whose Huntington Station business removes bamboo and other plants, told town officials. “It has a mentality and a consciousness of its own.”

The town board is considering restrictions that include the mandated containment of bamboo root systems.

Tuesday’s hearing was the second of two in which officials weighed a diverse bundle of code amendments, including the striking of the word “cabaret” from the books and a repeal of a tree ordinance. A decision on the changes might not come for months, officials said.

James Meehan, a Massapequa-based landscaper, said he has witnessed bamboo flourish even in darkened garages. “It goes under driveways, it goes into garages,” he said. “There is no cement wall that’s going to stop it. There is no plastic wall that’s going to stop it.”

He and others advocated a ban on future bamboo planting.

Homeowners spoke about their personal experiences.

Jack Beebe, of Massapequa, choked up when he described his “backyard sanctuary,” with its birds, pond and forest of bamboo.

He said a law requiring that the plant be set 10 feet back from his property line threatens the scenic spot.

Robert Morgan, of Plainview, said his neighbor’s bamboo plants have encroached on his property for years, dropping rhizomes the size of his wrist everywhere.

At least nine other Long Island municipalities, including Long Beach, have passed bamboo restrictions.


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