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Town Tree Hearing Rakes in Comments

Dozens turn out to address tree ordinance and bamboo proposal.

It sometimes felt like a garden club meeting rather than a public hearing on possible changes to the Oyster Bay Town code, but Tuesday's Town Council meeting brought out dozens of passionate residents, environmentalists and elected officials concerned about proposals related to trees and bamboo.

The hearing was a continuation of one held at the Aug. 14 meeting on several code changes the town is considering. Many of the proposals involve updating laws that are already on the books, according to town officials.

But two issues received the most attention Tuesday.

The town is proposing restrictions on the growth of bamboo, banning its growth, unless it's growing in a container or if a barrier is installed. In all cases, bamboo growth must be kept at least 10 feet from the property line.

The town is proposing the repeal of the current tree ordinance, and has not yet written a new proposed ordinance, according to a Town spokesman, but Supervisor John Venditto once again insisted that the law will not be abolished.

"There was never an intent to leave the Town of Oyster Bay without a tree ordinance law," Venditto said. 

"The problems with the current ordinance were two-fold. One was the [$75] fee [too take down a tree]. That' s easily remedied, obviously, you can eliminate the fee. The second problem was a little more complicated. There  were quite a number of residents who were disappointed with government intrusion."

Venditto, a Republican, said he wanted to hear from all points of view on the issues, a stance that was applauded by Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs, D-Woodbury, who at the last meeting.

"I think it's important that the tree ordinance remain in place in the Town of Oyster Bay," she said. "If there are modifications needed it's important that good heads put themselves together." Jacobs was one of 

Venditto said he's heard varying points of view expressed on the bamboo issue, particularly over whether or not it could be contained.

Jimmy Meehan, a landscaper, who serves the Massapequa and Farmingdale areas said he believes there's no way to completely stop it's growth.

"It's very invasive," he said. "It goes on the driveway. It goes into the garage. There's no cement wall that's going to stop it. There's no plastic that's going to stop it. You cut it down and it comes back."

When asked what how he thought the town should handle the bamboo issue, Meehan said, "eliminate it from being planted and grandfather those who already have it," indicating that those who already have it on their property should not be fined, since it 's so difficult to get rid of the plant."

The Board ended the public hearing but voted to keep the public comment period open for 30 days. 

They have not yet scheduled a vote on the new ordinances.      

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