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Yes you could be liable, if you are considered a Running Bamboo Owner according to the bylaw and if the bamboo spreads onto your east neighbor’s property after June 15 2021.
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It was effective from passage (June 15, 2021).
Any monopodial (running) tropical or semi-tropical bamboo grasses or bamboo species, and any other species of bamboo that is found to have encroached upon any property other than the property on which it was originally planted, including Town-owned property or a Town-owned right of way.
Bamboo within Phyllostachys (a genus of running bamboo species) are the most likely to encroach as described in the bylaw.
Please see our Quick Guide to the Identification of Phyllostachys (PDF).
No. Japanese bamboo (e.g. Japanese knotweed; Fallopia japonica) is not a true species of bamboo and is not covered under this bylaw.
Not at this time. In Massachusetts, plants must meet specific scientific criteria in order to be considered invasive.
The Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG) is a voluntary collaborative representing organizations and professionals concerned with the conservation of the Massachusetts landscape. MIPAG was charged by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to provide recommendations to the Commonwealth regarding which plants are invasive and what steps should be taken to manage these species. Please see Species Reviewed for full list of species the group has evaluated.
The Town Manager has designated the Department of Public Works as the authority to enforce this bylaw.
Any Running Bamboo Owner that is in violation of this bylaw may be fined $100 per day for each day that the Running Bamboo remains unconfined on the Running Bamboo Owner's property, or is in violation of any other provisions of this chapter. Any such penalty or penalties may be enforced through non-criminal disposition as provided by G.L. c. 40, section 21D.
Section 131-2 Defines "Running Bamboo Owner" as any property owner, whether a person, firm, trust, corporation or other legal entity, at whose property Running Bamboo is located. Since bamboo was not intentionally planted onto your property, you would need to send a written notice (via certified mail) to your neighbor within a year of the encroachment as well as a copy of that letter to the Town Manager to not be considered a Running Bamboo Owner under the bylaw. If the Town Manager determines that you are not a Running Bamboo Owner your neighbor would be liable for the new spread.
The bylaw states that a person who allows running bamboo to grow beyond the boundaries of his or her property is liable for any damages caused by the bamboo after June 15 2021.
The bylaw requirement regarding some type of containment of running bamboo apply only to plantings or encroachment that occurred after June 15, 2021.
If the bamboo that you are concerned about was planted prior to June 15, 2021, no employment of a containment barrier is required. However, there could still be liability relating to spread across property lines after June 15, 2021.