After holding a public hearing in February, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved amendments to the County Code at its meeting on March 22, 2022, that will require property owners to prevent running bamboo from spreading onto another’s property and to take steps to eradicate the bamboo if it encroaches onto another owner’s property. This new law authorizes the County to impose civil penalties ranging from $50.00 to $200.00 per day for violations. The law will be effective in Fairfax County on January 1, 2023 and will only apply to bamboo encroachments occurring after that date.
The County’s law follows a state law enacted in 2017 that empowered municipalities to enact such local laws. The state enacted its law after several courts declined to hold property owners liable under general nuisance laws for the spread of bamboo from their property to the property of another.
Boards in Fairfax County now must be more mindful of bamboo on or adjacent to their property. If Boards know they have bamboo on Association property, they now have another risk to manage, as the new law may expose the Association to legal responsibility for stopping the spread of it to other properties under the threat of civil penalties. Since running bamboo is difficult to control and eradicate, the civil penalties may be the least expensive worry for Boards. If your Board currently knows of any bamboo encroachment from the common area onto the property of another, now is the time to document its existence. Similarly, Boards should stay vigilant in keeping bamboo from spreading to their property and may wish to investigate an eradication program. After the new code goes into effect on January 1, 2023, the County may well become involved in your situation if someone complains.
By Erik W. Fox EFox@reesbroome.com