LIVINGSTON, NJ — The final vote to adopt an ordinance that would regulate the planting, growing, maintenance and/or cultivation of bamboo was postponed once again by the Livingston mayor and council on Monday following many comments from residents both for and against the ordinance. The council agreed to hold off for revisions until March 20.
Some residents said the proposed ordinance would place an onerous financial burden for the cleanup of bamboo on property owners who already had the plant growing wild when they purchased their homes. Others, who have lawfully planted bamboo at considerable expense to help with drainage and other issues, said the ordinance would ultimately devalue their property.
“I’m not asking you to address my drainage problem or my privacy problem,” one resident said. “What I’m asking you to do is respect the fact that I planted it lawfully and I would ask you not to impose a retro-active ordinance that would require me to remove it or devalue my property by creating a liability that stays with the property.”
A second resident said he would happily get rid of the bamboo, but requested that the township help by recommending some suppliers. He stated that he and his neighbors have contacted contractors, landscapers, gardeners, etc. who refused to touch the bamboo.
“When we bought our house 18 years ago, it never occurred to us to run an inspection of our neighboring homes who had bamboo,” said resident Karen Scott. “Little did we know, we have bamboo to the left of our home and even more behind us and it’s invasive. I have no desire for my wonderful neighbors to pay a huge fine, however I only ask that they try to cut it back and eliminate this bamboo.”
At a previous meeting, the Livingston Environmental Commission (LEC) endorsed the ordinance, which was already postponed once on Jan. 30 for tweaking due to residents’ concerns. LEC Chairman Walter LeVine, who the council said was instrumental in drafting the ordinance, was on hand Monday to explain how the ordinance came about and what it is intended to accomplish.
“A number of residents came before the commission and brought to our attention that this is a significant problem in town,” said LeVine, who also described the different types of bamboo. “Existing bamboo is grandfathered, meaning you don’t have to remove it. However, you will now be responsible for its maintenance to see that it doesn’t spread to adjoining properties.”
According to LeVine, there are procedures that can be made available to residents for how to cut back, maintain or create a barrier for the bamboo.
“The real import of the ordinance was to restrain new bamboo from being planted in town because of the fact that it has become such a major problem,” said LeVine.
The public hearing on the bamboo-regulation proposal on Monday was intended to allow for maximum resident input. However, the ordinance will also be on the agenda for the March 2 meeting of the Livingston Environmental Commission at 7:30 p.m. at the Livingston Senior and Community Center.
During this meeting, the Livingston Township Council also postponed a final vote to adopt an ordinance authorizing the private sale of township-owned property to Habitat for Humanity. See story HERE.