SPRINGFIELD, NJ — In an effort to curb the spread of bamboo in town, the Springfield Township Committee passed the first reading of an ordinance designed to limit the scope of existing shoots in town and stop the planting of new ones.

Ordinance 2020-15, if it passes on second reading at the next meeting, would enact a new section in chapter 15 of the township code, which deals with property maintenance. Section 15-17 would specifically relate to bamboo, and would prohibit an owner, tenant or occupant of a property to install or permit the installation of running or clumping bamboo on their property.

On top of stopping new bamboo plantings, the ordinance would also require anyone with bamboo already on their property to act in order to confine its spread. The one exception to the confining measure would be if a property owner can prove that the bamboo did not originate on their property.

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Failure to properly confine existing bamboo may result in removal of said bamboo, and any costs incurred in the removal will be at the expense of the property owner.

According to the Invasive Species Webpage on the US Department of Agriculture website, the impact of bamboo, which was introduced to the United States in the 1880s is that it forms "dense, monospecific strands that can displace native species." In addition, bamboo grows rapidly, and if left unchecked, can spread to nearby properties from the original planting.

To that end, multiple Springfield residents have complained about finding newly-sprouted bamboo offshoots from existing plantings nearby growing in their yards, which prompted the action from the township.

Mayor Chris Capodice announced his reasoning for the vote, and noted that he had heard from residents having issues with bamboo, which led him to ge the ball rolling in the first place.

"I received a couple of phone calls about the growth of bamboo," Capodice said. "And this is something I didn't know that actually I found quite interesting. There are several residents, and this may be more than I realized, that have growths of bamboo in their yards. And it can become very troublesome.

"One resident in particular shared some videos with me, shared some information, and I turned this over to our health officer, our attorney and our [business administrator] who crafted the ordinance, and it was [...] a good idea, so I wanted to put it on for consideration."

Another point was made by Deputy Mayor Chris Weber, who noted that several houses in his neighborhood have seen unwanted bamboo growth, and that his would soon be on the list as well. He said that if the township can prevent this form happening to any other residents, it would be a worthwhile step.

Following a short discussion, the ordinance was passed unanimously on first reading. The second reading and final passage will be up for discussion at the next meeting on July 14, 2020.