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Northport OKs new law limiting bamboo

Bamboo in the Town of Huntington. (June 20,

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

The Village of Northport has approved a new law that prohibits and regulates certain types of bamboo, following in the footsteps of the Town of Huntington and many other municipalities across Long Island.

The board voted unanimously for the new law at Tuesday's meeting.

"I personally know how invasive those types of bamboo are," Mayor George Doll said Wednesday.

A handful of people spoke at Tuesday's public hearing and all were in favor of regulation, officials said.

Doll said the people at the meeting persuaded board members to make the law "a little stricter."

Northport's law, effective after it is filed with the state, prohibits the new planting of running bamboo. Anyone found violating the law is subject to penalties, including a $1,000 monthly fine.

If running bamboo already exists on someone's property, they must contain it to prevent it from spreading within 20 feet of neighboring properties and the public right of way.

The draft of the law called for 10 feet, instead of 20.

The purpose of the law is to protect private and public properties in the village from the spread of certain running bamboos and to protect indigenous plants, according to village documents. The law is to be enforced by village enforcement officers.

Bamboo intrudes so easily because, underground, its rhizomes extend horizontally.

People have complained that bamboo has spread to their properties and destroyed driveways, sheds, fences and more. It has also impacted house foundations and the plant's sharp sprouts can be dangerous to children playing in the yard, residents have argued.

Huntington passed its regulations in April, after about a year of debate, revisions, failed votes and tension among town board members. The town and Northport are two of several municipalities that have passed or considered such bans on Long Island.

The state is also trying to crack down on fast-spreading species of bamboo, as part of its plan to add dozens of plants, insects and animals to its banned list. The plan, which has drawn some debate, has a 60-day comment period that ends Dec. 23.

The state rules take effect six months after they are finalized.

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