Board of Supervisors to gain public comment in June on bamboo ordinance

Pulaski County appears to be close to becoming the first locality in Virginia to enact an ordinance taking aim at running bamboo.

After much effort to gain the authority through the state legislature to enact a bamboo ordinance, County Attorney Tim Kirtner was charged by the Board of Supervisors to come up with such an ordinance.

Kirtner presented his proposed ordinance to supervisors Monday night.

He told supervisors two state statutes give the county authority to regulate bamboo.  One statute has been on the books for several years and was used in 2013 to enact the county’s current weed and grass ordinance.

A second statute passed this year, ads running bamboo as a type of vegetation the county can now require property owners in a local ordinance to cut if it gets out of control.

Through the new statute, the county can require property owners to install barriers to keep running bamboo from spreading, and to make it a violation of the ordinance if the bamboo is allowed to spread to a neighbor’s property or onto a state right-of-way.

While the old statute can not be applied to farm land, the new statute addressing bamboo applies to all properties.

Kirtner said he intended to write one big ordinance, but if supervisors want it to apply to farms also, there would actually have to be two ordinances with one applying to bamboo.

“We won’t be worried if a property owner with, say, a thousand acres has a patch of bamboo in the middle of it,” Kirtner said. “It’s only when the bamboo is close to somebody else’s property that will be affected by it do we need the barriers.”

Kirtner’s proposed ordinance prohibits running bamboo from growing within 50 feet of a boundary with another landowner without providing proper upkeep and without putting in place appropriate containment measures.  Those measures include a barrier constructed of concrete, metal, plastic or high-density polyethylene encompassing the perimeter of any stand of bamboo and extending 24 inches below the ground and is 12 inches wide.

Supervisors approved advertising two public hearings in June on a new amended grass and weed ordinance and a bamboo ordinance.

The proposed ordinances address the long-time concern of Walt Viers of Draper.  Viers has complained to the board on many occasions over the past few years about a neighbor’s bamboo spreading onto his property, and how the thick patch of bamboo attracts large numbers of starlings, which he says are a nuisance to surrounding property owners.