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Hawthorne, N.J. joins list of towns trying to restrict invasive plants like bamboo

Hawthorne, N.J. trying to restrict invasive plants like bamboo
Hawthorne, N.J. trying to restrict invasive plants like bamboo 02:12

HAWTHORNE, N.J. -- Support is growing in one New Jersey community to restrict where residents can have bamboo and other plants.

The ordinance is likely to pass this week in the Passaic County town of Hawthorne. CBS2 has learned more on why neighbors are complaining about the plant.

"They just pop up all over the place," Hawthorne resident Santo Occorso said.

Occorso showed CBS2 the small sprouts that show up in his yard almost daily.

"They were here when we bought the house, but it wasn't that bad," Occorso said.

The bamboo is spreading rapidly from a neighbor's yard. It is coming in under the fence and even spreading underground, taking over a large chunk of Occorso's back yard, despite his neighbor's efforts.

"I see the guy here in the morning. He tries to control it, but I think it's out of control," Occorso said.

Bamboo can offer privacy between neighbors, but it grows fast and is highly invasive.

"It is a very aggressive type of plant. It does grow fast and it is very difficult to kill," Hawthorne Mayor John Lane said.

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Lane said he has received plenty of complaints from residents about bamboo creeping onto their properties, even causing damage to fencing.

The borough council is considering an ordinance that doesn't outright ban bamboo, but it would have to be planted in above ground containers.

"So this way it is contained and it's contained to your property," Lane said.

Hawthorne isn't the first to restrict bamboo in New Jersey. Mahwah has a similar law in place for bamboo to be held in containers.

In Hawthorne, violating the proposed law could result in fines up to $2,500.

"I don't want to see anybody be penalized, but it is out of control. It's annoying," Occorso said.

His neighbor told CBS2 off camera that the bamboo is relatively easy to control. Occorso, however, disagrees.

"Yeah, when I look at this, I don't even want to come out to the yard. I stay in my own corner there. This yard is useless to me," he said.

The Hawthorne council is set to vote on the bamboo ordinance on Wednesday night. It could become law by the end of this month.

Hawthorne officials say they plan to work with residents and give them time to clean up the bamboo. But after that, fines could be issued.  

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