Bloomington board of public works notebook: Boxed-in bamboo wins appeal

A stand of bamboo can continue to screen the hawks and herons that eat the excess fish in a backyard Bloomington water feature.

That was ruling from Bloomington’s three-member board of public works at its Tuesday meeting.

In the first week of September, Bloomington resident Carolyn Geduld had been cited by the city’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department for allowing the bamboo to grow on her property in the southeast part of town. It was a warning that the HAND department issued, not a fine

Under Bloomington’s city code, bamboo is defined as an invasive species and cannot be planted or maintained on a property.

Geduld appealed her notice of violation. And the city’s legal department was persuaded by her argument.

Assistant city attorney Chris Wheeler addressed the board in support of the appeal. Geduld attended Tuesday’s board of public works meeting, but did not address the board.

The key to winning over the legal department was not the hawks and herons that Geduld described in her appeal, but the fact that the bamboo was confined to a structure where it could not spread. Continue reading “Bloomington board of public works notebook: Boxed-in bamboo wins appeal”

Bloomington says bamboo ban means longtime resident must purge invasive species from yard

“Because bamboo is nasty, and you can’t get rid of it.”

That’s a two-and-a-half-year-old quote from Bloomington city councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith. Her remark came around 8 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2019 when the city council was considering a series of amendments to the city’s unified development ordinance (UDO).

Piedmont-Smith was explaining why she was, at the city staff’s request, introducing an amendment to add yellow groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) to the city’s list of prohibited invasive grasses.

Yellow groove bamboo is one of the plants included in the Indiana Department of Natural Resources plan for managing invasive species. It can be hard to contain, because it shoots out horizontal underground plant stems that reproduce the root systems of a new plant.

The council’s 2019 approval of the amendment banning yellow groove bamboo means that city resident Karen Cherrington is now required to eradicate the bamboo plants that are growing on her West 6th Street property.

It’s not just the fact that the plants are on the banned list—they are also too tall, exceeding the city’s eight-inch limit for “weeds, grass, or noxious plants.”

About a year ago the city’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department started issuing citations and fines for Cherrington’s bamboo.

Cherrington’s appeal of her citations and escalating fines was heard on Tuesday by Bloomington’s three-member board of public works (BPW).

In her written appeal, Cherrington described herself like this: “I am physically unable to mow or cut myself. I will be 74 my next birthday, had a hip replacement, and have four compression fractures in my back, so any work like this I need to hire out.” Continue reading “Bloomington says bamboo ban means longtime resident must purge invasive species from yard”