A proposed amendment to the Independence City Code would restrict the planting or growth of bamboo.
Andrew Warlen from the Health Department gave a presentation at Monday’s City Council study session that outlined reasons for the proposed amendment and provided some background on the perennial, tall, woody grass.
Warlen said his department receives two or three complaints a year about bamboo, but with no regulation in the books, the only possible way to address a complaint is as a civil issue between citizens.
The proposed amendment would prohibit non-native species of bamboo to be grown outdoors except in containers. Native plants are defined as those from the genus “arundinaria” and are commonly referred to as river cane, switch cane and hill cane. Citizens would be responsible for removing or controlling non-native bamboo on their property, even if it had simply spread from a neighbor’s property.
Warlen’s presentation noted that bamboo can grow to heights varying from 6 to 45 feet, and new canes get produced by shoots from the buds of underground stems. Varieties of bamboo generally are classified as clumping (slowly spreading bamboo) or running (rapidly spreading).
Council member Chris Whiting said he’s heard concerns from citizens in his district about the grass.
“It looks pretty, but it creeps out and becomes quite a nuisance,” he said.
Council member Eileen Weir questioned how easy it would be, if such an ordinance passes, for people doing their own landscaping to identify non-native bamboo.
“I can see somebody purchasing a plant they don’t know is prohibited,” she said.
Warlen said the city would try to spread information of the ordinance in every way possible. City Manager Robert Heacock added that the city could inform area nurseries so they can educate customers on the different bamboo species.
Warlen said the bamboo restriction is designed to prevent the grass from doing damage to sidewalks, driveways and fences, spreading to neighboring properties, and overtaking native flora species.
His presentation noted one city in the metro area, Overland Park, Kan., that requires property owners to prevent invasive species from spreading to neighboring properties. Cities like Lee’s Summit, Liberty and Shawnee, Kan., have no prohibitions in place but also no recorded complaints about the grass.
In other business, the Council observed Laurie Countryman’s first grade class from William Southern Elementary making its annual presentation, “It’s Our Country, Man,” and members of the street improvement sales tax and parks and recreation sales tax oversight committees gave their biannual reports.