Mazzeo Bill to Control Running Bamboo & Help Homeowners Combating the Invasive Plant Released by Assembly Panel

Bill Prompted By Struggles of Linwood Family Overrun by Bamboo

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo sponsored to combat concerns surrounding the uncontrolled growth of bamboo, which can cause severe damage to property and buildings, was released Monday by an Assembly committee.

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.

Under the bill, 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 (NJAES) at Rutgers, the State University, including: (1) a statement that running bamboo is a fast growing plant that may spread if not properly contained; (2) a plain language summary of the provisions of this bill; and (3) recommendations, based on the best available information, on methods to properly contain running bamboo.

The bill directs the NJAES to prepare this statement and make the statement available on its website. A retail seller or installer who violates this provision would be fined $100 for each plant sold or installed in violation of the bill.

Finally, the bill amends the Sellers Disclosure Statement that homeowners fill out upon putting their home up for sale to include a question that asks if Bamboo is planted on the property. This allows future buyers to know ahead of time if the property contains the invasive plant.

The bill was released by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.