OLIVETTE — The Olivette City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to amend the city's urban agriculture law to ban roosters and the planting of invasive bamboo.
Only Councilwoman Missy Waldman was opposed.
Carlos Trejo, the city's director of planning and community development, said the city had been receiving various complaints from residents regarding chickens, bees, certain grasses and bamboo in residential areas.
“One family had a mini cow on their property, and we had chickens running around in various neighborhoods, as well as some overzealous landscaping,” he said.
“There used to be an animal control officer in the police department," Trejo said. "… We later found this unnecessary to send police officials to address animal issues, when these matters could be handled by building inspectors through code enforcement.”
He added that “we want regulations that balance our community character and values.”
Trejo said the city "will consider existing roosters and bamboo and establish standards where they could be maintained.”
The city allows residents to have up to six female chickens, he said.
Councilwoman Maxine Weil said the need to ban roosters focuses on noise nuisance.
Resident Leslie Rickard said that bamboo is not considered to be in the top 10 of invasive plant species, but she acknowledged that communities across the country ban it.
She said she feared the city's action “could make things worse between neighbors who don't have the best relationship, and an escalating cycle of complaints and violations would create unnecessary challenges for the city.”
“I don't want the city to be unnecessarily involved in frivolous complaints,” she said.
She wondered how bamboo was different from sweet gum balls, saying she recently had sprained an ankle falling on some of those.
“The law seems to favor the complainant over the other homeowner, and I don't see why an appeal would require involvement of the St. Louis County Circuit Court,” Rickard said.
“I'm afraid that sometimes a complaint could be made due to a neighbor's underlying agenda.”
Councilman J. Gregory Carl said he has a grove of bamboo in his yard and added that Mayor Ruth Springer has had trouble with a neighbor whose bamboo is encroaching in her yard.
“My bamboo has a barrier and is not encroaching," he said. "I planted it as a reaction to construction on neighboring property, because it's the fastest-growing plant I could find. Though I've taken great precautions, that bamboo takes some management. Unlike sweet gum trees, which don't spread and are relatively easy to clean up, bamboo can be difficult to remove.”
Councilman Sidney Clark said plants like bamboo can be disruptive to neighbors and “sometimes the right thing for a city to do isn't the most popular.”
“I have lived with the downside of bamboo for over 18 years,” Springer said. “Every season, I have to dig it out of my back yard. This legislation is for the entire city, not for a subdivision or ourselves individually. While not perfect, we have crafted a law the community can live with.”