Ocean City Gives Final OK to Bamboo Ban
More from Thursday’s City Council meeting:City Council Buys Time on Irrigation RequirementOcean City Puts $1.75 Million in Place for Artificial Turf and TrackMore coverage to be posted on Friday__________Sign up for OCNJ Daily’s free newsletter and breaking news alerts“Like” us on Facebook The City of Ocean City’s historic U.S. Life Saving Station property at Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue will be one of the first tests for a new bamboo ban on the island.City Council on Thursday approved an ordinance that prohibits the planting of bamboo in Ocean City and requires owners of properties with existing bamboo to pay to remove it from neighbors’ properties if it spreads.The ordinance is detailed but includes the following basic provisions:Prohibits owners and tenants from planting any variety of bambooRequires owners and/or tenants to contain existing bamboo with an approved barrier systemRequires owners and/or tenants to pay to remove bamboo from neighboring properties within 90 days or face penalties of up to $100 a day until they do.Amendments to the ordinance also approved on Thursday give parties responsible for the spread of bamboo 45 days to come up with an approved plan to remove it and 120 days to implement the plan.In public comment, Ocean City residents warned of the impact of what Wesley Avenue resident Kerry Treasure called the “nuclear option” — the requirement for owners to completely eradicate spreading bamboo.The species travels easily from one property to the next and is extremely difficult to remove. At the same time, its strong underground runners can damage structures and landscapes.Residents said bamboo removal costs easily can reach $10,000 and at best comes with a one-year guarantee. The same responsible parties could be required to pay again if the bamboo returns. They said the only truly effective way is to dig several feet deep, displacing all landscaping and hardscaping, to uproot all bamboo rhizomes.They said there’s no easy way to determine who is the responsible property owner in areas where bamboo is prevalent.“Where do we stop?” asked Nancy Notaro, who lives at 11th Street and Central Avenue. “Maybe a neighbor doesn’t like ivy growing up over their fence.”“I’m inclined to table it, rewrite it and see if we can get a better product,” Councilman Pete Guinosso said of the ordinance.But his fellow council members expressed more of a sense of urgency.“The simplest answer is be neighborly,” Councilman Mike DeVlieger said. “It is a plant that can cause serious damage. I think it’s necessary that it gets on the books.”“I don’t think it’s something we can sit on,” Councilman Mike Allegretto said.“I think you have to start somewhere,” Councilman Pete Madden said.Council President Tony Wilson called it an “imperfect piece of legislation.”“But we need a mechanism when communication fails between neighbors,” Wilson said.City Solicitor Dottie McCrosson told City Council last month that the city’s code enforcement officer would be responsible for determining if a property owner is responsible for encroachment. If the officer can’t make a determination, each party would be responsible for containing their own bamboo, she said.