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Lindenhurst OKs restrictions on bamboo use

Bamboo grows in the Town of Huntington on

Bamboo grows in the Town of Huntington on June 20, 2012. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The Village of Lindenhurst has become the latest Long Island municipality to try to restrict the growth of bamboo.

Village board members unanimously passed a new law Tuesday night mandating that homeowners contain the stubborn, fast-growing plant.

In addition to brush, grass and weeds, which were already regulated, residents must also maintain bamboo, which they cannot allow to migrate to adjoining property. To prevent migration, residents are required to install an "impenetrable" barrier that is at least 4 feet deep.

Residents who fail to heed a warning from the village face penalties for a first offense of a fine of $50 to $250 "or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 days, or both."

Lindenhurst's law follows similar legislation proposed or passed in other communities, including Huntington, which has been massaging the language on proposed laws since last year.

"We've received a series of complaints over time, and we saw other municipalities were looking into it, and so we decided to as well," said Lindenhurst village Clerk-Treasurer Shawn Cullinane.

The board passed the legislation by a vote of 5-0, after a public hearing in which a handful of residents spoke of ongoing struggles to rid their yards of invasive species of the plant.

Andrea Dykstra, 71, brought photos of the yard of her daughter, Virginia Peck, who was unable to attend. The photos showed towering bamboo plants leaning over from Peck's neighbor's yard and thick stalks sprouting up through her grass. "I can't dig them up, I'm too old for this," Dykstra told the board.

A lone dissenter, Jim Barthelmes, testified that he likes bamboo and felt it wasn't the place of government to limit its use. "I think it's a neighbor issue," he said. "I don't think the government should be involved in people's plants."

Barthelmes said he planted bamboo 10 years ago as a barrier between his house and another rather than erect a tall fence. "It's gorgeous bamboo, it's a beautiful hedge," he said.

"I'm very unpopular, I realize that," Barthelmes said, acknowledging that the plant "spreads like wildfire."

"But it doesn't hurt anybody, it's not poisonous," he said before deadpanning, "Pandas love it."

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