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Fairfax County approves fines for running bamboo, starting next year

Bamboo (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County will soon require property owners and residents to prevent running bamboo from spreading and take steps to contain it.

After holding a public hearing in February, the Board of Supervisors approved the new ordinance yesterday (Tuesday), but officials reiterated that county staff will first seek to educate community members and let them correct issues voluntarily before fines are imposed.

Still, people could face fines of $50 a day for an initial complaint, followed by additional fines of up to $200 a day for each subsequent case.

“We’re not ever in the business of trying to make money. We’re in the business of trying to force the hand of compliance,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said.

The ordinance won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2023.

Code compliance staff will be responsible for investigating complaints of uncontained running bamboo against people who fail to contain it within 30 days of receiving notice of the violation, staff noted in a board agenda item.

People who receive a violation can also file an appeal to the county executive within 10 days of delivery of a notice.

Fairfax County Director of Code Compliance Jack Weyant suggested that fines would be invoked for cases that have gone for a year or longer.

He said fines will be a progressive system but hopefully won’t be needed.

State law adopted in 2017 has allowed municipalities to impose financial penalties on uncontained running bamboo, but other types of nuisances, such as poison ivy, weren’t covered by the law.

Virginia still allows running bamboo to be sold. Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw, who heads the board’s legislative committee, said the county will bring that issue up with state legislators.

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