Categorized | Express Editorials

Into The Yard It Creeps (6/6/13)

Posted on 07 June 2013

Spring has sprung, and with it have arrived the new baby bamboo shoots.

We’ve seen them cropping up all over lately, and we’re none too happy about it — especially when they show up on the wrong side of the fence.

They start out innocuously enough in unexpected places, but within days, these small purple/green shoots can reach impressive heights. With the latest batch of new arrivals comes not too distant memories of discussions on the topic of bamboo that took place in Sag Harbor Village hall not that long ago.

Lots of people had trouble with bamboo invading their properties back in 2011, and the village board considered passing legislation to ban the planting of the invasive species or at least regulate its use on village properties. But in December of 2011, the board of trustees decided to back off on the idea of legislation, instead encouraging neighbors to negotiate its presence or lack thereof the old fashioned way — face to face.

And that’s where we still stand today.

But we want the village of Sag Harbor to consider revisiting legislation banning bamboo —and we’re talking specifically bamboo not other invasive species which we also have plenty of on the East End.

Though we admire in principle the board’s belief that it would be better for residents to work together to protect each other’s homes by solving the bamboo conundrum “over the fence,” as it were, we’re not so certain it’s an idea that actually works in the real world.

Perhaps 10 or 15 years ago it might have been possible, but now we have so many residents who don’t live in the village year around, pinning them down about an issue like bamboo can be near impossible. The fact is, many people are not necessarily close to their neighbors these days, especially if they are only here on very occasional weekends.

Meanwhile, the bamboo is a constant presence and at this point, residents who are experiencing property damage from its constant creep are out of luck, with no recourse, no legislation and not even a neighbor to talk to.

In passing this kind of legislation, Sag Harbor would not be the first. Other Long Island municipalities have already enacted bans on it — including Brookhaven, Hempstead, Long Beach and most recently, Malvern.

Residents everywhere have come to understand what we know well. Bamboo is an insidious invasive. It doesn’t respect property lines and burrows wherever it pleases in its desire to spread far and wide. Along the way, it burrows into foundations, wrecks plumbing and can compromise septic systems — and that’s what has us most concerned.

We live in a waterfront community and have already seen how run off from faulty septic systems and fertilized lawns damages water quality in the Sag Harbor area. Do we really need unchecked bamboo growth furthering our water woes?

We totally agree it would be nice to be able to solve the bamboo conundrum over the fence, but we don’t see that as a likely option. While there are those who say bamboo can be effectively controlled, the fact is, from what we’re seeing people aren’t controlling it. There may be a few who are, but they are the exception, not the rule.

Sag Harbor is full of tiny lots. It takes very little for one person’s ornamental stand of bamboo to quickly get out of control and overrun the property of a neighbor. With so many other communities now getting wise to the way of bamboo, legislation regulating its use isn’t an unprecedented act.

It’s time to ban the bamboo.



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