Following both praise and criticism by Sag Harbor residents over a proposed law that would have banned bamboo in the village, on Tuesday night the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees voted to withdraw the legislation from consideration.
“I have been talking to different people and I think the best thing to do is to advise people not to plant invasive species,” said trustee Robby Stein, first suggesting the proposed legislation be tabled and then suggesting it be withdrawn completely.
The rest of the village board supported Stein unanimously, including Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride.
The legislation was originally introduced in September after the village board heard the pleas of resident Pat Field this summer. Field said she has done almost everything imaginable in an effort to kill bamboo spreading onto her Madison Street property from a neighbor’s yard. The bamboo, said Field, was threatening her very home.
Originally, the legislation targeted all invasive species of plants, but was quickly scaled back to address only bamboo. According to the last version of the draft law, if adopted residents would not have been allowed to have bamboo “planted, maintained or otherwise permitted to exist within 10-feet of any property line, street, sidewalk or public right of way.”
However, the legislation was criticized by some in the village — including homeowners facing a similar battle as Field — as being too far reaching for the local municipality, and potentially costly for village residents who bought properties that already contained bamboo.
“I think the discussion we have had was a great discussion, but it showed clearly this is a neighbor to neighbor issue and the bigger issue here is there are residents who have bamboo and have done everything right,” said Mayor Gilbride. “It is the encroachment onto neighbor’s properties that really needs to be addressed.”
Prior to the meeting, Mayor Gilbride said he would ask Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. to explore what options the village has to ensure property owners are properly maintaining their bamboo and not negatively impacting their neighbors.
Village to Take Closer Look at Municipal Building
Following a special Sag Harbor Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, December 8, the village has agreed to spend $15,000 to explore the structural integrity of the Municipal Building on Main Street.
According to Mayor Gilbride, the goal is to ascertain whether the third and fourth floors of the building — now used for solely storage and not open to the public — could be made accessible through an elevator in the building.
Currently, the Municipal Building has a lift installed to help disabled residents gain access to the second floor, which houses the village justice court, building department, main meeting room and the mayor’s office.
While much depends on what this structural assessment shows, Mayor Gilbride said it has long been a dream of his to have the third floor opened up for use by village government. An elevator is required by law for the village to place any entity needed by residents on the third floor.
Mayor Gilbride said he envisions moving the building department to the third floor, if an elevator could be installed, so that department would have more space in which to work. A mayor’s office and conference room for the village boards could also be carved out of that space, he added.
The village’s justice court has largely taken up most of the office space traditionally used as the conference room, as well as the mayor’s office.
According to Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley, he will work with engineers to first try and locate the original schematics for the Municipal Building, which dates back to at least 1850, he said.
After that, ascertaining the possibilities for the Municipal Building should happen rather quickly, said Yardley.
“These are all new thoughts,” cautioned Mayor Gilbride. “The toughest part will be seeing if we can get an elevator in here at all.”