Seymour Bamboo Battle Continues In Court

Contributed photoAbout a year after Seymour resident Caryn Rickel sued four of her neighbors over bamboo allegedly coming into her yard from theirs, the battle rages on.

Rickel claimed in her lawsuit that two of her neighbors, Michael and Roberta Komaromi of Sunset Terrace, planted the bamboo in 1994 without an underground plastic barrier, and that the root systems overtook Rickel’s property. Rickel lives on Edgehill Terrace, which backs up to Sunset Terrace.

Rickel also claimed her neighbors William and Laura Price bought another property on Sunset Terrace in July 2010 that had bamboo growing on it. They did nothing to stop the bamboo from spreading to her property, Rickel claims, so she’s suing them, too.

In the latest development in the civil case, which has not yet come to trial at Superior Court in Milford, the Prices won the right to use time as a defense against Rickel’s lawsuit.

In court documents, the Prices said Rickel had waited too long to file a lawsuit against them because the bamboo was planted in 1994. Rickel didn’t file her lawsuit until November 2010.

On Aug. 1, a judge agreed with the Prices. That allows them to use that defense if and when the case goes to trial.

Rickel is representing herself in the case.

A message was left with the Price family. Their attorney, Robert O. Hickey, based in Stamford, declined to comment.

Rickel, reached by e-mail, said the bamboo from the Prices has invaded new parts of her property this year and that she had 25-foot-tall bamboo trees growing out of the centers of all her hydrangea.

“I cannot put a price on this loss. My land is unsellable,” she said in an e-mail response.

Regarding the Prices, Rickel said they did not intentionally plant the bamboo, but they allow it to remain and invade from their property.

“This count remains. The case will go to trial,” Rickel said.

Botanical Expert

In the meantime, defendant Roberta Komaromi told the Valley Indy Oct. 5 that she brought in a botanical expert — Wayne Cahilly, the site historian at the New York Botanical Garden — to examine her yard.

His take, according to Komaromi: The bamboo had been contained in the Komaromi yard.

Cahilly, when reached by telephone, declined to comment.

Komaromi said Rickel is out to control what her neighbors plant in their yards.

“She has no bamboo growing in her yard. She has no damage,” Komaromi said.


posted by: Caryn Zlamany Rickel on October 10, 2011  7:08am

I am writing to clear the inaccurate statements made by Roberta Komaromi.First, Roberta Komaromi did not bring in a botanical expert. Her homeowners insurance is providing her a defense. I was present the entire time, by the side of Wayne Cahilly when he inspected my property, and he and I walked the length and he saw all new bamboo invasion from May 2011, that extends 37 feet behind Prices fence,and 30 feet behind Komaromis fence.
I was allowed also to inspect Prices property which is all rhizome stumps, as he has quickly cut a massive amount of bamboo canes down. This does nothing to stop the damage and invasion underground.Rhizomes must be removed. Komaromi has done the same. I witnessed the tape measure and inspection.All new land being invaded. The no bamboo Roberta Komaromi refers to is the deep trench where we spent the entire summer literally gutting my patio landscape 2 feet deep in summer of 2010 digging rhizomes with reciprocal saws. She will say anything to divert the truth. In fact, anyone who would like to come this week to see the damage to my property is invited to see it, just call me first at 203-734-6344 ,to see the damage firsthand.
My septic is right in line with the newest MAY 2011 invasion. Roberta Komaromi still fails to acknowledge that she has planted the most destructive invasive bamboo:Phyllostachys yellow groove: without barriers, and allowed it to freely invade all 4 adjacent properties.
  When my bluestone patio was installed 2005 -the landscaper had to bring in a backhoe to remove bamboo rhizomes, and he filled an entire dump truck, (He installed steel to protect it )Bamboo busted through it.It all came back.This patio is gutted and closed .Not useable. The damages are continual. The grove is too mature to fight back. Komaromis ,and Prices are allowing the bamboo to invade further down the property lines. New bamboo is all visible in new area’s. I urge others to come here firsthand to see this .203-734-6344 please call first. Need town ordinances to protect other property owners.

posted by: Alahana Grundy on October 10, 2011  8:41am

Neighbors who grow bamboo should be responsible for damages to properties.Including any property that is damaged by their stupidity.Caryn will win and pave the road for others who are effected.

posted by: Carol Merritt on October 10, 2011  8:55am

I have the same problem in Florida. Why do the courts even tolerate this situation. What about justice? Why is a neighbor allowed to destroy another’s property? Why is a person allowed to lie in court? Our situation has already cost us 10,000 dollars and our neighbor’s bamboo is only 4 years old. Caryn has the photos. As far as I see it this is negligence on the part of the neighbors, and it is being allowed to continue. These people should be forced to clean up the mess they have either created or allowed to continue. This goes far beyond a nuisance! Good Luck, Caryn!

posted by: Carol Merritt on October 10, 2011  10:44am

just received a call from a lady who lives alone in our area. She is infested with bamboo. She says that she has to be careful walking on the lawn because of the rhizomes. It is everywhere. It was planted years and years ago by a neighbor who has since moved away. She cannot remove it herself and she does not have the money to pay to have it removed. Her neighbor, who has two small toddlers and who is also infested with it, does not have the money either. He just bought the property a year or so ago. I also had a man call last week who owns a small nursery and has clumping bamboo. He tried to burn it, but it came back with a vengeance. He said it had grown about 40 feet tall. He was beside himself, and was also looking for a way to rid his property of it. Another man called who said his relative was infested with it, and it had undermined and bent the chain link fence. He too was looking for a way to get rid of it. A couple of men called. They had bamboo planted all around their house. They were looking for help too. The people who call me are looking to me for advice on how to get rid of it. The public needs to be informed about bamboo. This horrible plant needs to be regulated and eradicated!

posted by: John Cummings on October 10, 2011  11:10am

Running bamboo was brought to my attention over a year ago. I am a certified independent real estate appraiser in the State of Connecticut. It is my job to be aware of external issues that can affect a property’s value. From what I’ve observed property bordering a lot with running bamboo or that has it, or any unusual condition that impedes the typical and customary use of a property, affects its functionality or utility and therefore marketability. That means the property’s value.

I urge home inspectors to educate themselves to what is running bamboo. From what I’ve read and understood, the safety precautions supplied by the sellers of running bamboo are not 100% affective. Once the rhizomes spread beyond their containment method, and they likely will, the only resolution is to excavate all the land within the reach of the rhizomes and burn, not bury, the excavated running bamboo. Every piece of running bamboo root system has to be removed or it will likely return.

This is or should be an issue for the home owner or future home owner and one thing more to be cautious about. It is important that the mortgage lender be informed by the appraiser. It is important for the home inspector to warn their client the purchaser and it is more important for the real estate agent to know how running bamboo as will affect the property value and to explain, to the potential seller, when taking a listing. In my opinion it needs to be disclosed, regardless of its status as an invasive species. It is a condition that only gets worse and limits utility and therefore value.

I have seen running bamboo in many settings. There doesn’t seem to be any stopping it without having a continual vigilance. It spreads and overtakes other foliage and destroys asphalt driveways, septic systems and drainage systems and the sharply pointed rising shoots from the spreading rhizomes can be dangerous if unwittingly stepped on.

Become aware,

John Cummings

posted by: Caryn Zlamany Rickel on October 10, 2011  3:27pm

Fox news 12, Rich Soldinger is great in the video…town is getin gready to pass ordinance this month ! Video is priceless…same bamboo as all the rest of us..

posted by: Arnold L. Goldman on October 13, 2011  11:19am

Be glad it’s not Japanese Knotwood. In an epic 50+ year struggle it has not been eradicated from my parents home and surrounding homes.

posted by: Caryn Zlamany Rickel on October 13, 2011  2:45pm

Hi Arnold, I can assure you that this
noxious invasive running bamboo
(Phyllostachys : yellow groove is far more destructive than Japanese Knotweed.
(Fallopia Japonica) My neighbors planted the most destructive & noxious form of non-native invasive bamboo in my back corner property line, well today it is is huge, & invades 4 properties. The rhizomes invade first underground undetected, and do so to the tune of 15 -20 feet per year, in a 360 degree around the mother plant. These rhizomes have the tensile strength of steel. They will push clay pipes, bust up foundations, destroy sewers,septic,asphalt. Any patio or landscape does not stand a chance. They will push up railroad ties even. Japanese Knotweed is also very hard to eradicate,and very destructive as it is rhizomatous. We have not seen the likes of an invasive such as Phyllostachy. Towns are passing ordinances rapidly. I do sympathize as these rhizomatous invasives are the most difficult to eradicate. Takes years of diligence. In the UK, one cannot even get a mortgage if Japanese Knotweed is on the property, due to its invasive & destructive nature. It is a prolific seeder, poses a huge problem to unmanaged land. I am working hard to educate on the Invasive running bamboo, and have towns pass ordinances to protect property owners from the damage to their land and assets that is inevitable. My land is being ruined as this continues.

posted by: Emma Huller on October 13, 2011  7:45pm

I planted this bamboo on my property quite a few years ago but saw how destructive it was becoming, going over my property line into my neighbors yard. I offered to get rid of it all, but my neighbor said he liked it. I got rid of mine, paid many hundreds of dollars, but it is still in his yard.
I spent many an hour this summer digging the rhizomes left behind out, but it is still right across the border in my neighbors yard. Hopefully he will see how invasive it can be and get rid of it sooner, rather than later.

posted by: Caryn Zlamany Rickel on October 29, 2011  6:56am

Over the weekend a Kodak dated photo was found and this invasive bamboo here was planted in 1997. (Was 6 tiny cornstalk sized plants) The complaint had to be revised to make this correction, as it was thought that the planting was in 1994.
  It is truly astonishing how this stand of yellow groove has spread to all 4 of these properties.The soil is deeply comtaminated with rhizome, & all other landscape is being choked off. The rhizomes are deep & tangled and moving in on new land now on all four adjoining properties underground. This specie is the fastest growing plant on earth, but sadly the most destructive as it rapidly invades underground via long rhizomes, & takes over all other vegetation. (Phyllostachys)
  It is important for the readers to know there are two kinds of bamboo.
Clumping - which is non-invasive (Fargesia)
Running - which is invasive bamboo,called:(Phyllostachys )yellow groove. This is listed as invasive , noxious per USDA.
Phyllostachys are the destructive runners. In the long run they escape as the grove is mature in about the 12th year.It grows more aggressive each successive year,meaning taller and rhizomes longer underground to match the height.When you realize it is a problem, it is almost too late. Very difficult to eradicate. Noxious. Height to 40 feet, thicker with age.
Phyllostachys yellow groove is giant cold hardy to -15 below, Timber bamboo. This is not a suitable plant for a property line,as it takes over land very fast, & destroys assets.
On my property it has damaged a new drivway, a sidewalk, central a/c unit invaded, and foundation was found to have very long rhizomes going along it. All the landscape and lawns had to be destroyed to try to remove the deep rhizomes. We are at this daily, as it keeps coming up. Some places you cant reach,like under fences. Difficult isnt the word. Continual nuisance.