Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-1016

Title:

AN ACT REGULATING THE PLANTING AND SALE OF RUNNING BAMBOO.

Vote Date:

3/25/2013

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/15/2013

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The legislation is a response to the growing problem of running bamboo. In the past several years, the state has seen instances of bamboo being planted in a resident's property, only to see it quickly grow and spread. The result has been the bamboo spreading onto abutting properties, causing property damage. Additionally, the bamboo has proven difficult to kill, costing tens of thousands of dollars to remove with no guarantee of eradication. Under current Connecticut General Statutes (CGS), victims of the bamboo have no legal recourse to seek compensation from the planters.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

The Substitute Language strikes Section 1, subsection (e) in line 36 after the words “Environmental Protection” to say, “in conjunction with the Department of Consumer Protection may enforce the provisions of subsections (c) and (d) of this section.” The original bill had state police and municipal officers as well as constables enforcing this provision but was modified due to concerns these officers may not know the specifics of what constituted a violation. Also, there were additional concerns officers would be called away from a public safety threat to contend with bamboo violations.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Bill Hyatt, Chair, Invasive Plants Council (IPC):

Mr. Hyatt and IPC are in support of the concept of the bill but wanted to emphasize bamboo is not an invasive species. IPC states bamboo does not meet the criteria for an invasive species as defined by Section 22a-381b of the CGS. This is because bamboo cannot spread by itself and only in areas adjacent due to intentional plantings. Nevertheless, Mr. Hyatt does acknowledge running bamboo does grow aggressively and once established, “these populations frequently cause property damage and can be difficult and costly to control or remove.” IPC does approve of the liability cause in the bill for planters and the 100-foot setback or container requirements which will further limit the spread of bamboo. Mr. Hyatt also acknowledges the educational aspects of the legislation, which will require retailers to inform buyers of the concerns associated with running bamboo. He states many people simply may not know the risks associated with planting the bamboo.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Bob Heffernan, Executive Director, Connecticut Green Industries Council:

Mr. Heffernan and the Council are in support of the legislation, noting they have designed a tag for their retailers that cover the risks of running bamboo and how to contain the plant. He also notes with approval the bill delineates between running and clumping bamboo, which does not grow aggressively. The Council would like to see a section added to the bill which will include municipal pre-emption because as the legislation currently stands, it will apply to all 169 towns in the state.

Caryn Rickel, CPCU, Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research:

Ms. Rickel founded the Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research in 2010 and has documented approximately 310 instances of yellow grove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) in the state. She notes the destructive nature of the bamboo and how it can render property unusable. Ms. Rickel states the bamboo grows in a 360 degree pattern underneath the ground and once it has appeared aboveground, can grow up to two feet per day. As an example, she notes her own property has been severely damaged by invading bamboo from a neighbor resulting in the loss of her garden. Her neighbor responded to her concerns that the growth was not their problem since there was no law. Ms. Rickel also notes her fear the bamboo will eventually destroy her well water as well as her neighbors. Finally, Ms. Rickel states due to the bamboo, her two properties in Seymour lost 33% of their value due to the infestation and cannot be sold. She contends an assignment of liability is needed each time the bamboo infests an abutting property.

Esmeraldo Ramos and Rosita Ramos:

Mr. and Mrs. Ramos state their property has become infested by yellow grove bamboo their neighbor planted six years ago. Since then, the bamboo has grown 60 feet long, 25 feet wide and 35 feet high. They are also extremely concerned because the bamboo is only 10 feet from their septic system. Mr. and Mrs. Ramos note each year they cut the bamboo down but it grows back every year and grows more pervasively each season. They contend strict guidelines and liabilities are needed for those who plant the bamboo and damage their neighbor's property.

Gail Kalison Reynolds, Higganum, CT:

Mrs. Reynolds states 10 years ago her neighbor planted running bamboo and it has spread to her property. She notes each spring through summer, she and her husband knock down and mow over the bamboo sprouts (culms) which break through the ground. In 2012, she stated her concern the bamboo would clog her septic tank and damage the foundation of her house. Mrs. Reynolds notes her neighbor has not tried to contain the bamboo and has planted other invasive species on her property. She has begun to dig up the roots (rhizomes) and has dug a two foot trench to insert a plastic barrier but does not believe the barrier will keep the bamboo out of her property.

James & Marissa Vallillo, Stonington, CT:

Mr. and Mrs. Vallillo state they own a small piece of property in Stonington on which they have built a vacation home. They state a neighbor is in a legal dispute with another neighbor (and the previous owner) and planted bamboo to spite the owner. The bamboo was planted on the property line and has since grown onto their property and is encroaching on their house. Mr. and Mrs. Vallillo contend they were unaware of the damage bamboo can cause and that bamboo is being used as a weapon against neighbors. They believe the planters of the bamboo must be held liable and victims be given a means to protect their property.

Mary Wilson, Chairman, Newtown Conservation Commission:

Ms. Wilson states that Newtown, like many townships in the state, has dealt with residents who plant bamboo and the resulting disputes even though this is really a state issue. Although she supports the bill, Ms. Wilson does have some questions. For example, in subsection (c), Ms. Wilson is concerned some people may not know how to set up a 100-foot barrier from abutting properties if they plant bamboo. She also questions how the state can enforce the educational aspects in subsection (d) at the point of sale. Ms. Wilson suggests a log be kept which the buyer would sign when they purchase the bamboo. Finally, Ms. Wilson does ask who will enforce subsection 3 (e) of the bill.

Rep DebraLee Hovey, 112th Assembly District:

Rep Hovery does acknowledge property owners have the right to plant and cultivate on their land; it is also imperative the plant is confined to their property. She notes in the past few years, the state has come under attack from the bamboo and numerous constituents have brought the issue to her attention. Rep Hovey contends the sale of the bamboo needs to be regulated to prevent its uncontrolled growth which can be expensive to the landowner to remove.

Sally & Daniel Wade, East Lyme, CT:

Mrs. and Mr. Wade are in support of the bill but would like to see subsection (b) omitted, believing all bamboo must be covered, regardless if it was planted before or after October 1, 2013. They believe it is critical this section be struck, noting they are currently dealing with a neighbor who planted bamboo and it is now only 1 foot from their property and 40 feet from their septic tank. Mrs. and Mr. Wade feel it is unjust their largest financial asset could be damaged and there is nothing they can do to rectify the situation.

Enilda Rosas, New Haven CT:

Ms. Rosas supports the bill, stating running bamboo can grow 20-30 feet tall and lives all year with the stalks 2 inches in diameter. She states her garden was destroyed by running bamboo and as an example noted last year she cut down 78 stalks which had grown 1-3 feet overnight. Ms. Rosas states not only is the bamboo hard to kill, but landscaping companies do not want to deal with the issue, stating she called 32 companies and only 4 came out of which just 2 gave an estimate of what it would cost to remove the bamboo and repair her yard. She states her yard is 50 by 24 feet and the estimates were from $18,000-$22,000. Ms. Rosas believes those who plant the bamboo should be responsible for its containment and removal.

Priscilla S. Weadon:

Ms. Weadon states her yard has become infested by yellow bamboo from her neighbor who has responded the bamboo is her problem. Furthermore, Ms. Weadon states she runs her own catering business which she supplied through a fresh vegetable garden. The bamboo has since destroyed the garden, resulting in Ms. Weadon having to buy fresh produces for her business. She feels it is critical liabilities be established and planters be held responsible.

Theresa Groff, Preston, CT:

Ms. Groff is in support of the bill but would like some modifications to the legislation. Specifically, she wants the bill to specify all of the bamboo, surface and below the surface must be removed at no cost to the victim. She notes the problem is spreading and has found 94 instances of infestations within 26 miles of her house in Preston. Ms. Groff also notes the resiliency of the bamboo, which can survive -15 degree temperatures and grow 2 feet per day. Finally, she contends many barriers are ineffective, stating the bamboo can push their plastic barriers, concrete sidewalks and even 6 inch thick asphalt.

Robin Arcarese, Bozrah, CT:

Mrs. Arcarese states her property has been infested by running bamboo and although their neighbor who planted it have has removed the bamboo from their property, they refuse to do so for her own. As it currently stands, she and her husband have no legal recourse and will have to spend years dealing with the bamboo. Mrs. Arcarese supports the bill, noting the most important aspect will assign “strict liability” to those who plant the bamboo.

Beth Coelho-New Milford, CT; Chris Behnke-Woodbridge, CT; Denise Cappella-Branford, CT; Joan and Joseph Marrone-Orange, CT; Jon A. Brayshaw, First Selectman-Town of Middlefield; Thomasine O'Boyle; Lynne Sebastian-Westport, CT; Carey Moran-Stonington, CT; Louise W. Fabrykiewicz-New London, CT; Charles Sherwood-Orange, CT; Gabriele Kallenborn; Ines Cuadrado-Durham, CT; Jame P. O'Boyle-Stonington, CT; John Kowalsky; Marguerite Gagnon; Sandra Suffredini-Southbury, CT:

The above group submitted testimony in support of the bill. They each stated the rapid growth of the running bamboo and the damage it can cause. The general consensus was there is no legal recourse against those who plant the bamboo and the victims are responsible for its removal. Additionally, they noted the bamboo is almost impossible to kill and grows pervasively.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None

Reported by: Edward Schaeffer

Date: 04/01/2013