MADISON, NJ – Invasive plants are taking over the yards of several residents in town, and now the Madison Board of Health may do something about it.

The Board will meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. inside the Madison Civic Center at 28 Walnut St. to discuss amendments to the borough’s health code, which may include the redefinition of plants—particularly running bamboo— that are deemed a “nuisance” by municipal law.

“It’s going to be a showdown,” said Terry Romano, who with her husband, Dr. Sam Romano, and several neighbors, has spearheaded the small, yet persistent anti-running-bamboo movement in Madison.

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If passed, these changes would prohibit the planting of running bamboo, as well as other “native and non-native invasive vines and vegetation that grow upon, extend roots across or extend branches, stalks or leaves over any public way or onto any private property,” the proposed amendment said.

Many residents spoke up at recent council meetings to ask the Mayor and Council for assistance. The Board of Health will hear out many of these concerns tonight as it discusses possible changes to the health code relating to invasive plants.

It all started when Dr. Sam Romano and his wife, Terry, addressed the Mayor and Council earlier this year about running bamboo that they said has become a “cancer” in their yard after a neighbor began planting it a few years back.

Kitchell Road residents Jean and Larry Sher hosted a little “show and tell” segment at last night’s council meeting when they brought in an enormous stalk of running bamboo, which stood about 15 feet tall. That was only part of the plant, according to Jean Sher.

“The bamboo is 20 feet tall,” she said. “It’s so invasive that in three years, our neighbors covered 600 feet of fencing” that lines their property.

To keep the bamboo at bay, she said, costly removal work is needed at least two to three times per year.

Sher said she and her husband have spent $6,000-$7,000 and “countless hours” trying—almost in vain—to remove the bamboo plants, which have shot out roots under their newly paved driveway and often block the driveway when it snows.

“Running bamboo is like cancer to land,” said Terry Romano. “It robs you of your quality of life.”

If passed, changes to the health code that defines the types of prohibited “nuisance” plants could also fine property owners who do not remove the nuisance within five days of notice from the borough...and that’s not all.

“The Board of Health may institute an action at law to recover costs incurred by it in the removal or abatement of any nuisance...from any person who shall have caused or allowed such nuisance to exist,” according to the proposed amendment.