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Examiner
  • Proposed bamboo ban targets invasive plants

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  • Realty firm Reece & Nichols is listing a two-bedroom ranch inside the Golden Acres subdivision that seems to have everything going for it: a central city location, easy access to Highway 70 and a price under market value.
    But potential buyers might soon have to consider the cost of intensive landscape rehabilitation as the City Council considers a ban on bamboo plants like those found at 672 E. Red Road.
    The council last week heard a proposal for a city code change that would potentially hit the owners of the home - as well as surrounding properties that unintentionally acquire the same plant -- with a fine of up to $500 for improperly maintaining a non-native bamboo species.
    Then, there's the actual removal of the plant.
    “You've have to dig down two and a half (to) three feet to get all the rhizomes (root masses),” Alan Platz, assistant manager of Colonial Nursery in Blue Springs, said. While he couldn't estimate precisely how much it would cost to completely remove such bamboo, his company would charge $50 per man per hour for labor alone.
    “There's nothing on the books for this problem and there's no course of action,” Council Member Chris Whiting said.
    Whiting said there's a potential for harm to sidewalks and other city infrastructure, damage complicated by the fact that invasive bamboo species are extremely hard to get rid of.
    Whiting is “absolutely right,” Platz said. He said the bamboo found at the house on East Red Road fits the description of, “ an extremely invasive plant, which is very hard to get rid of once you have it.”
    When left unchecked, “The amount of damage is substantial,” Whiting said. “This is a way to address the problem. It's really an issue of making them responsible.”
    Platz said Colonial sells non-invasive species of bamboo, which have rhizomes that clump, rather than spread. He said he knows of other nurseries that are phasing out the invasive types of the plant from their stock.
    While bamboo complaints were just a handful of the 6,676 complaints the city received in 2013, Whiting said he's had a number of residents contact him with concerns about their neighbor's bamboo installations.
    Whiting said he's specifically responding to complaints coming from community members inside the Golden Acres subdivision. Andrew Warlen, Independence Health Department's assistant health director, confirmed at least one complaint has come from a residence neighboring the East Red Road address.
    Linda Mueller, Reece & Nichols' listing agent who has worked on the sale of the Golden Acres home since last fall, said the bamboo has never come up as an issue. While the home is temporarily off the market, she said it will back on next week and declined to comment on how the city's proposal might change the marketing or price of the home going forward.
    Page 2 of 2 - The home’s owner could not be reached.
    The proposed ban will get a first reading on Monday.
    The city’s proposal targets non-native bamboo with an aggressive running pattern. This genus is known as “phyllostachys,” and – in addition to being an aggressively invasive plant – is known for it's culinary uses according to Alan Branhagen, director of horticulture at Powell Gardens.
    The ordinance would exclude the native “arundinaria” genus, which Branhagen said is comparatively easier to maintain.
    Branhagen said bamboo isn't very popular in our area because the temperate climate tends to result in an unattractive yellow grass. The city council's ordinance is modeled after a similar ban that Overland Park, Kan., enacted in 2011.
    Kim Hendershot, supervisor of code compliance, said she has seen only a few situations where the ordinance was necessary. Like the proposed Independence ordinance, it carries a fine of up to $500 per day per violation.

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