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Ligonier discusses invasive plant ordinance issues

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

After hearing how communities throughout the country are addressing invasive bamboo, Ligonier council voted to form a committee to draw up an ordinance regarding the plant's existence in the borough.

Tom Freeman, who believes the council should create an ordinance to eliminate all bamboo, is acting as chairman of the ordinance committee, which also includes Bob Bell and Judy Hoffer.

Council spent much of its Aug. 8 meeting discussing what should be done about the invasive plant.

“The biggest issue with the bamboo in my opinion is it has runners, and it travels just under the surface of the ground, under sidewalks and into other people's yards,” council president Robert Helterbran said. “I have no issue with the looks of bamboo or the bamboo itself, but I do have a problem with it invading other people's properties.

Helterbran said, in addition to the property on East Church Street that was discussed at June and July's meetings, he has seen a couple other properties in the borough with bamboo.

“Once it starts spreading, it continues to spread, and there's very little that can stop it,” he said of the plant.

Solicitor George Welty presented some research on what other communities are doing about bamboo, stating that the general assembly of Connecticut recently passed a law regulating it. The law requires anyone who plants bamboo to plant it 100 feet from the line of adjoining property or public right of way. Those selling it must educate those who purchase it of its growing tendencies and how to properly contain it.

Welty read an article published by the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 4 that discussed how some state and local governments are taking actions to ban the plant or make anyone who grows the plant responsible for damage it may cause.

Welty also read an ordinance in Haverford Township in Delaware County, which prohibits planting bamboo and has a method for how to deal with already planted bamboo, stating that it cannot go beyond the planter's property. In Bristol Township in Bucks County, Welty said they did not prohibit bamboo but had an ordinance stating that those growing or maintaining bamboo species must take measures to contain and prevent it from invading neighboring properties.

“It can come through your streets or your alleys,” Welty said. “It's a serious problem.”

Welty will meet with the committee to further discuss how to go about drafting the ordinance.

In other news

• Engineer Ben Faas said the traffic study for the Ligonier Valley YMCA expansion will be complete by the end of this week. He said he has obtained information about school bus traffic, and a traffic engineer said the peak hours of the bus traffic were not the same peak hours for traffic around the YMCA.

• Council approved a $1,300 donation from Byers-Tosh American Legion to purchase a bicycle and accompanying gear for borough police. Chief of Police John Berger said he believes having the bicycle will help decrease gasoline purchases by enabling police to utilize an alternative form of transportation.

The next meeting will be held Sept. 12.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or

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