Mt. Pleasant neighbor wants appeal of bamboo decision

| Wednesday, July 9, 2008

High bamboo plants are the cause of a neighborhood dispute in Mt. Pleasant that has raged for two years.

At a hearing before the Central Westmoreland Council of Governments Joint Appeals Board in June, the bamboo growing in Myra Posner's yard at 340 S. Church St. for more than 22 years was determined to not be in violation of a borough ordinance that requires all grass and weeds to be no higher than 10 inches.

The bamboo, in places, is more than 30 feet tall.

The reason for the decision was because the bamboo is edible vegetation and not grass or a weed.

On Monday, Posner and neighbors who support her asked council to let the issue die. One neighbor along Church Street who has issues with the vegetation asked the borough to appeal the decision to the Court of Common Pleas.

John Canterbury, who lives at 241 S. Church St., doesn't mind the bamboo. He said he moved to the borough two years ago because he liked the neighborhood.

"I invested a lot of money, I pay a lot in taxes, but I'm pleased with the community," he said. "It really concerns me that the matter of this bamboo has become such an issue. I'm not concerned about my home surroundings and the bamboo doesn't bother me -- in fact, I find it enjoyable."

He said the borough is being poisoned with negativity.

"A decision has been made on the issue, and I just ask that you let it go away and we go back to our lives," he said.

Dan Gelzheiser said he is the only homeowner in the neighborhood who is directly affected by the bamboo because it is growing into his yard and allegedly creates a nuisance because of noisy birds and their droppings.

"I also pay my taxes and I'm entitled to the same rights as everyone else in this borough," he said. "I'm asking the board to take the next step and appeal this issue to the common courts.

"This is ludicrous," Gelzheiser added. "It's a public safety hazard not only to me, but to everyone else."

Posner said she has cut the bamboo back that's in her front yard and there are no more birds or droppings in that area. She said the bamboo is beautiful and children in the neighborhood love to walk along the "panda path" that winds through the bamboo.

"He's the only one that is concerned about it," she said. "He's using bullying tactics and terrorizing the whole community. There is no problem (with the bamboo) -- he's the problem."

Council President Mike Tabita said if council were to address the issue or make any changes in the ordinance, a recommendation would have to come from the zoning and ordinance committee.

"If we were to decide to argue the decision (of the joint appeals board), the issue would come up sooner than later, but if we were to change our ordinance, it would more than likely take a bit longer," he said.

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