Brookhaven’s Bamboozlement


Invasive species, wild growth, busted asphalt, cracked foundations, massive outgrowth –

Where do we run? How do we take cover?

There’s no need to fear, the Government is here!

Following other towns on Long Island, Brookhaven has now stepped into the fray and put the issue of  bamboo on the table.

A criminal law was proposed by Councilwoman Walsh which would prohibit the growing of bamboo on private property. The penalties were to range from fines to actual jail time. Upon introducing the resolution it was decided to pull the jail time off the bill.

Attendees arguing against the growing of bamboo on private property said the root system is invasive and migrates uncontrollably, damaging neighbor’s property with uncontrolled thickets, cracked foundations and split asphalt driveways. They said that cost of removal can be in the tens of thousands of dollars and that some sued at a cost exceeding $20,000..

Problems with passing the law need to be addressed –

  • Is there a grandfather clause.? If not how or why would someone that has been living with the bamboo for over 30 years come up with or have to pay for removal?
  • Is there a penalty for those properties to which the bamboo migrated?
  • What about dormant growth? What to do if the underground root pops up after the laws implemented?
  • What about properties owned by the town to which there is migration? Could the town penalize itself?
  • What would be the limits of the law? Does it extend to the neighbors shade tree that prevents the pool water from warming? Does it extend to the giant oak that continues to drop acorns and leaves on my property? Who should clean that up? What about the allergic reactions one might develop due to the neighbors wild ragweed?
  • The one over-riding question of the night was constitutionality. What about private property rights? Where do they start and where do they end?

The issue became one of personal responsibility vs  personal property. Do we as a people give up our personal property rights due to the failure of another’s personal responsibility?

In this writers view, this is a serious issue.  Yes, it is bamboo, but the implications are so much more. This issue is an example of how, even though the best of intentions are trying to be met, a disastrous outcome could come about. Once this road is opened how will it ever be closed?

Some residents suggested that contact be made with The American Bamboo Society as well as other groups on how to handle the over 1000 species of bamboo. There are some that spread, there are some that clump. Some residents offered free helpful advice. Some offered manual help.

There are many options and it is best to take the time, gather the information, utilize the ideas available, and come to a solution that would have a better outcome than one that will have us asking what happened to our property rights.

Brookhaven, let’s not be Bamboozled.

The town has closed oral arguments but has left open 10 days to accept written arguments which are to be submitted to the town clerk.



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