Mazzeo Bill to Control Running Bamboo & Help Homeowners Combat the Invasive Plant Gains Assembly OK

Bill Prompted By Struggles of Linwood Family Overrun by Bamboo

Legislation Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo sponsored to combat concerns surrounding the uncontrolled growth of bamboo, which can cause severe damage to property and buildings, gained approval from the General Assembly on Thursday by a vote of 48-17-2.

Mazzeo (D-Atlantic) said the bill is necessary due to bamboo’s invasiveness, and cited as an example Elaine Walsh of Linwood. Ms. Walsh, a nurse and mother of two, formally resided in Atlantic City, but lost her home during Superstorm Sandy. She relocated to a house in Linwood, but soon discovered her property was being overrun by running bamboo from a neighboring yard.

“The invasive plant caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to Ms. Walsh’s property and threatened the foundation of her home,” Mazzeo said. “This would give Ms. Walsh and New Jersey residents in similar situations the legal means to recover for damage caused by running bamboo.”

The bill (A-3452) would make it unlawful for any person who plants running bamboo or who allows running bamboo to grow on his or her property to permit the bamboo to grow beyond the boundaries of the property.

Violators would be liable for any damages caused to any neighboring property by running bamboo. A subsequent purchaser of property, or a person who takes possession of property pursuant to a foreclosure, would be responsible for ensuring that any running bamboo does not grow beyond the boundaries of the property.

“Failing to control an invasive plant species can create nightmares for homeowners,” Mazzeo said. “This bill would impose some responsibility and give those suffering the damage a means to recover costs and relieve some stress.”

The bill would also make it unlawful for any person to plant running bamboo or allow running bamboo to be planted within 100 feet from the property boundary line of any abutting property or public right-of-way, unless: (1) the bamboo is contained by a properly constructed and maintained barrier system that prevents the spread of roots underground; or (2) the bamboo is planted above ground in a container or planter so that the running bamboo does not come in contact with the surrounding soil. Violators would be fined $100. If the violation is of a continuing nature, each month during which it continues would be a separate offense.

Additionally, a retail seller or installer of running bamboo would have to provide to each customer who purchases running bamboo a statement, prepared by the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University, explaining issues related to running bamboo and provide recommendations for properly containing the bamboo.

A retail seller or installer who violates this provision would be fined $100 for each plant sold or installed in violation of the bill.

Lastly, the bill would require the property condition disclosure statement obtained from the seller of a property to include the following question: “Are you aware of the presence of any running bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata or other bamboo in the genus Phyllostachys) on this property or an adjacent property at any time in the past five years? If yes, describe the location of the running bamboo, and any action taken to remove or contain the running bamboo, if known.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.