Eatontown seeks to require native plants in new developments


EATONTOWN – Officials in Eatontown are proposing to amend the borough’s land use ordinance to require the use of native plants and tree species in development applications.

On Feb. 23, Borough Council members introduced an ordinance that will, if adopted, amend the land use ordinance by requiring native plant species in the landscape design of development applications. The ordinance would also prohibit the planting and growing of non-native plant species and invasive plant species.

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for March 9. The governing body may adopt the ordinance that evening.

Under the terms of the proposed ordinance, two or more different types of plant species will be required when an application calls for five to 10 plantings to avoid monocultures. If there are between 11 and 20 plantings, four or more plant species will be required and if there are between 21 and 35 plantings, five or more plant species will be required.

In a development application that has more than 36 plantings, an additional species will be provided for every 12 plantings and the minimum diversity among the plantings will be 10%, according to the proposed ordinance.

Municipal officials said the members of the Eatontown Environmental Commission and the Shade Tree Commission studied and made recommendations to the Borough Council to require the use of native plants and tree species rather than invasive plants in development applications.

“The planting and/or the growing of invasive species and plants not indigenous to the central New Jersey environment has been found to be destructive to the natural environment, indigenous flora, structures and walks, and properties.

“Native plants are localized, hardy and well-adapted to the local soils and climate; have lower maintenance and replacement costs; are more insect- and disease-resistant; and require less water and fertilizing than non-native plants,” the proposed ordinance states.

The proposed ordinance also states that wildlife such as birds rely on native plants they co-evolved with as food, cover and rearing their young. The native plants evolved to thrive in a specific region within specific ecosystems and support their ecosystems in a more diverse manner than exotic plants.

“The planting and growing of invasive species threatens the value and physical integrity of both public and private property in the borough,” the proposed ordinance states.

Although exotic plants offer a nectar source for wildlife, the proposed ordinances states that their leaves, fruits, pollen and nectar are usually not the preferred food of native insects and wildlife.

According to the proposed ordinance, the lack of proper habitat and food sources for native birds and insects is a factor in the decline of many species in the United States.

Native plants are credited with helping to restore ecological balance lost through development, according to the proposed ordinance.

“The Borough Council believes it is in the best interest of its residents to adopt the recommendations of its environment team and prohibit the planting and/or growing of certain non-native species within the borough to protect and preserve the environment,” the proposed ordinance states.