Mazzeo Bill to Establish Requirements for Sale & Planting of Running Bamboo Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo sponsored to establish requirements for the sale and planting of running bamboo was released by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

Mazzeo (D-Atlantic) first brought up the issue in the Legislature almost three years ago following an incident at the home of a constituent. The Assemblyman said the bill is necessary due to bamboo’s invasiveness – it’s fast moving and extremely costly to contain and remove.

“My office has fielded too many calls to count over the last three years with people telling us how they’re breaking the bank trying to remove running bamboo, which they didn’t even plant,” said Mazzeo. “Even worse, with the foreclosure epidemic sweeping Atlantic County and around our state, vacant property is left untended causing damage to neighboring properties.”

The sponsor notes that the biggest threat to the spreading of running bamboo is the improper planting of it initially. If not contained properly it can spread rapidly, hundreds of feet in the manner of weeks. Under this bill, specifically, only a certified nurseryman could sell running bamboo to licensed landscape architects, registered home improvement contractors, and their employees and contractors who can plant it. Any person who sells or plants running bamboo without the proper qualification would be subject to a $100 fine.

The bill also provides that a licensed landscape architect or registered home improvement contractor who plants running bamboo may not plant it on any property within 100 feet from the property boundary line or public right-of-way, unless certain measures are taken to contain the running bamboo. Violators would be issued a warning for the first offense and subject to a $100 fine for a second or subsequent offense.

“Running bamboo has become increasingly popular as a natural barrier and privacy screen around home, but failing to control this 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.”

Under the bill, the person who owns the property 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.

Lastly, the bill would require the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety to 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 was released by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. It will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.