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Carolina Beach Council To Consider Bamboo Control Ordinance

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Carolina Beach resident Donna Levesque is upset that her neighbor planted a particular species of bamboo and it spread onto her property. She asked the Carolina Beach Town Council at their June 12, meeting to adopt regulations controlling where people can plant it and fines for failing to follow rules.
The Council agreed to consider the request at their July 10th meeting.
Levesque lives on Raleigh Avenue and was out of town for an extended period of time. When she returned, bamboo planted by her neighbor had spread onto her property and is extremely hard to eradicate.
Levesque explained to the Council, "I have supplied you with some information to read and study about running bamboo and the damage it can cause and also how it can deplete property values."
Levesque said, "I have a neighbor on the backside of my property on Monroe that has planted running bamboo. This is not my full time residence so I was not here and I came to realize a couple of months ago that it's in my backyard across my fence. And of course it's very difficult to eradicate, just about impossible with any kind of herbicide."
Levesque said she call the Town's Planning Department to see if there is a current ordinance governing bamboo. She said, "I was informed there is not but there are several towns... that have adopted ordinances."
Councilman Bob Lewis jokingly said, "I guess you're not concerned about the panda bear population?"
Levesque said, "I contacted some landscapers about trying to erect a barrier so the bamboo would not cross onto my property. It's a very extensive process. It's very costly and would have to be placed four foot under the ground."
She said, "It's ok to trim a tree that's overhanging your property but when you're dealing with a root system like this."
The said experts at NC State University said, "You have to eradicate it at the main" area.
She said, "I think any property owner that wants to plant bamboo should contain it on their property where other adjacent neighbors don't have the nuisance of dealing with the noxious weeds such as running bamboo is."
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth agreed the Town should consider exploring the issue. He said, "I don't want to trivialize it. Initially it sounds like it's not that big of a deal. It is pretty significant, the issue of invasive species and what it can do to adjacent property owners."
Shuttleworth called for Council to approve a public hearing for their July 10, meeting.
Levesque said, "It's a nightmare. Basically it's a nightmare to deal with this. The bamboo shoots come up on your property and every time you remove them they come back. There is no way you an get rid of this unless you go to the expense of an expensive barrier. I really don't think people that plant this weed  understand the nature of it and how extensive it is."
Town Manager Tim Owens explained, "I do think there are some things we need to think about with the help of our attorney. Where our statutory authority lies and whether we can regulate it or not. How does this person come into play with the new ordinance. Do they fall outside the new ordinance that's adopted or if we do adopt one is it going forward."
Owens said he's not opposed to moving forward to look at the issue.
Levesque presented ordinances from other cities and towns that grand-father existing plantings. She said, "But they must maintain it on their property but future growth is prohibited. Some of the other ordinances indicate that if you plant bamboo you must keep it within 10 feet of your property lines. So there are different ways ordinances have addressed it."
The Council voted unanimously to set the public hearing date for July 10, and directed the Town Attorney to research options for such an ordinance.
Not to be confused with the more commonly envisioned cane bamboo that is native to our region, the running bamboo species is a common more inexpensive addition purchased at many local garden centers. But owners rarely have a good grip on how far and fast it will spread.
In College Park Maryland, it's illegal for the owner, renter, lessee or occupant to allow the bamboo to spread to an adjacent property. The first offense brings a $200 fine. The second and subsequent offenses brings a $400 fine for each instance every 30 days.