Borough Ordinance Enacted:The New Bamboo Taboo


An ordinance passed by the Borough of Newtown on July 8 will regulate Running Bamboo, an invasive species that can damage other plants and properties. The new ordinance, the borough wardens hope, will also reduce the likelihood of neighbors having to sue neighbors over the encroaching plant.

Running Bamboo is a nuisance, according to an ordinance passed by the Borough Board of Burgesses. On July 8, the borough unanimously approved measures regulating bamboo “so that it does not invade or infest properties within the borough and does not create or present a danger to the safety or well-being of its citizens and their property,” the ordinance states.

“We’re glad to be at the forefront of this,” said Borough Warden Jim Gaston.

Former Conservation Commission member Mary Gaudet-Wilson was also happy with the news, saying, “I am very pleased that the borough has taken the initiative to address this problem. Running bamboo can quickly spread and become a serious threat to neighboring property, rights of way, etc. Having some government control will reduce the likelihood of neighbors having to sue neighbors, which is not good for the community. The Board of Burgesses was squarely in favor of the new ordinance and should be commended for their positive action.”

The town will likely follow the borough’s action.

Land Use Agency Director George Benson said, “We will look into it [and] will consider an ordinance too. When the borough passes something we often mirror and do the same.”

After speaking with conservation-minded officials including Ms Gaudet-Wilson and Mr Benson, and also watching closely as the state legislature during the past year supported a public act regulating bamboo, later signed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in June, the borough took its action, Mr Gaston said.

Several “problems with encroachment” had also taken place within borough limits, he said. He and others had been concerned about the issue.

Noting that the plant spreads quickly and can cause damage, especially in the borough where “housing is fairly close,” Mr Gaston said, “We wanted to address this, and don’t want it uprooting sidewalks or infringing on neighbors.”


Invasive Bamboo Ordinance

The Invasive Bamboo Ordinance states in part: “Running Bamboo that is presently growing within the Borough of Newtown and that may be introduced into the Borough in the future, needs to be regulated and controlled so that it does not invade or infest properties within the Borough and does not create or present a danger to the safety and well-being of its citizens and their property.”

According to the ordinance, “Certain types of bamboo,” later specified as running bamboo, “by their nature, spread rapidly underground … thereby infesting and damaging nearby properties….” The document says that “there presently exists within the borough Running Bamboo that has escaped the borders of the properties upon which it was originally grown and is causing damage to adjoining properties.”

Running bamboo will “invade, infest, and damage other plants, roads, sidewalks, buildings and structures,” according to the ordinance, which also states that the bamboo is not “readily controlled by customary or readily available agricultural measures.”

As stated in the document, the purpose of this ordinance is to “preserve and protect both public and private property from the damaging effects of certain non-native plants, to protect indigenous plant life, to prevent damage therefrom, to maintain property values and provide for the general welfare of the Freemen, residents and property owners of the Borough of Newtown.”

Bamboo cannot be planted or grown without following regulations, with barriers to prevent its spread. Bamboo owners are responsible for ensuring that bamboo does not invade neighboring or adjoining properties.

The borough will notify bamboo owners if they are in violation of the ordinance, and what action or removal should be taken.

“In the event the Bamboo Owner(s) does not remedy and correct the violations … the Borough of Newtown may remove so much of such Running Bamboo as is in violation of this ordinance, take any actions it deems reasonable to prevent its regrowth and restore the property to its natural condition prior to such measures,” the ordinance states.

Bamboo owners would then be responsible for costs incurred by the borough, which could result as a lien on the property.

The ordinance also specifies that “continuing violations of this ordinance beyond the time specified in the Notice of Violation are subject to a fine of $100 for each day such violation continues.”

Bamboo owners who receive violation notices may request a hearing to contest the matter. Requests must be in writing, and received by the borough clerk within teb days of the violation notice.

The full text of the ordinance is posted at right.


On The State Level

The local officials’ action follows a public act (PA 14-100—sSB 72) signed by the governor in June that “prohibits people from planting, or letting anyone plant, ‘running bamboo’ (i. e., bamboo in the genus Phyllostachys, including yellow-groove bamboo) on their property within 40 feet of abutting property or a public right of way.”

Prior law prohibited such planting within 100 feet unless the bamboo was contained by a properly constructed and maintained barrier system or planted above ground in a container.

The state legislation also includes the language: “The act also declares running bamboo that grows beyond a person’s property boundaries a nuisance. A nuisance is a condition that interferes with the use or enjoyment of property, and is a type of tort (civil wrong) for which a person can sue for damages. By law, a person is liable for damage running bamboo causes to neighboring properties, including the cost of removing any bamboo that has spread to the neighboring property.”

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