The Village of Flower Hill declared bamboo an invasive species Tuesday, banning new bamboo from being planted and imposing regulations to protect neighboring properties.
During a public hearing, trustees unanimously approved a local law prohibiting residents from planting bamboo in the village and regulating existing bamboo.
The law was originally discussed at the board meeting in July, and Village Administrator Ronnie Shatzkamer said, since then, a statement of purpose section and a records of violation and creation of registry section was added to the law.
The statement of purpose says that only individuals responsible for the planting or installing of the bamboo originally will be held accountable for the spread to neighboring properties.
Language was added to create and maintain a registry of violations to protect residents who had bamboo spread to their property who ultimately spread it to further neighbors but never planted the bamboo.
“Hopefully this language clears up the uncertainty about who owns it, where’s it coming from, and who is liable for damage,” Shatzkamer said.
Village resident Jean Terezakis said during the hearing that her neighbor’s bamboo spread to her property and is afraid of the damage it’s caused.
“My problem is the bamboo is already coming through my retaining wall,” Terezakis said. “You granted him a permit to re-landscape and pull out his bamboo. What’s going to happen though is when he pulls out that bamboo, that retaining wall is going to come down because it’s already through my wall. I want protection because he’s responsible.”
“We do not represent neighbor-to-neighbor,” Mayor Robvert McNamara responded. “That’s your responsibility to sue him, if need be. We can’t do it. If we could, we would.”
This is not the first time Terezakis has spoken to trustees about her concerns, and McNamara agreed to add a note to her property file stating the bamboo did not originate on her property.
The village code enforcement officer will be responsible for issuing violations of the new law and imposing fines ranging from $100 to $500 per day after residents are alerted to the problem.
Bamboo, a type of grass, can grow up to 12 inches a day in the right conditions, and its roots can spread up to 20 feet from the plant.
Village Attorney Jeffrey Blinkoff said residents with existing bamboo will be able to keep the plant as long as it is securely protected. The new code says residents must install sheet metal in the ground around the plant approximately four feet deep to control the roots.
“I think it’s similar to pool requirements,” Blinkoff said. “You may have a pool, and if the state changes the rules about pools, you have to bring it up to code. You can keep the pool, and you can keep the bamboo. They’re just saying your neighbor doesn’t have to have that bamboo, too. They didn’t buy it; they didn’t plant it. They shouldn’t have to have it.”