The purpose of this Ordinance is:
A. to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by effectively managing noxious weed infestations that can impact, or are impacting, the public in an economic, physiological, or ecological manner:
B. require all residents and entities in Pueblo County to manage such infestations. (Ord. 15§ 1)
8.20.020 Authority and Effect.
This Ordinance is authorized pursuant to part 1 of article 5.5 of title 35, C.R.S.
The Board of County Commissioners has assigned the Pueblo County Weed Coordinator of his or her designee to be the Central Authority governing all aspects of weed management. All request, concerns or comments concerning weed management shall be directed in wirting to the County Weed Coordinator for action consistent with the terms and conditions of this Ordinance. (Ord. 15 § 2)
Words and terms contained in this chapter are defined and construed according to the definitions set forth in Part 1 of Article 5.5 of Title 35, C.R.S., as amended from time to time, or according to their ordinary meanings, if not therein defined. (Ord. 15 § 3)
8.20.040 Applicability, effective date.
A. This chapter shall apply to all premises, lands, or places located in the incorporated areas of Pueblo County.
B. This chapter shall become effective on the date set for herein, and shall remain in full force and effect until amended, repealed or rescinded by a future ordinance adopted by the Board of County Commissioners of Pueblo County, Colorado. Once effective, this chapter shall be applicable to the management of noxious weeds to all such premises, lands, or places designated in subsection (A) of this section.
C. No such management shall be compelled until the county has first applied the same or greater management measures to any land or rights-of-way owned or administered by the County that are adjacent to the private property an issue. (Ord. 15 § 4)
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to maintain or permit to be minted any noxious weeds upon any property in unincorporated Pueblo County, owned, leased, rented or occupied by that person without taking appropriate steps to eradicate or manage the noxious weeds, as provided for in the Pueblo County Weed Management Plan, as the same is amended from time to time. When such conditions are found to exist on that property, it shall be presumed to be in violation of this section.
B. It shall be unlawful for any person to fail or refuse to comply with any order issued pursuant to this chapter.
C. It shall be unlawful for any person to interfere with or hinder the board, or its authorized representatives, in the discharge of their duties as herein prescribed. Any such interference or hindrance shall constitute a violation of this chapter. (Ord. 15 § 5)
8.20.060 Notice and order for eradication or management of noxious weeds.
A. The County Weed Coordinator or his or her delegate shall have the right to enter upon any premises, lands, or places during reasonable business hours for the purpose of inspecting for the existence of noxious weed infestations, when at least one of the following circumstances has occurred:
1. The landowner or occupant has requested an inspection;
2. A neighboring landowner or occupant has reported a suspected noxious weed infestation and requested an inspection; or
3. An authorized agent of Pueblo County has made a visual observation from a public right-of-way or area and has reason to believe that a noxious weed infestation exists.
B. Before entering upon the premises for such inspection, the County Weed Coordinator shall send a Notice to the landowner via certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested, addressed to him or her at his or her last known address as indicated on the County's assessment roll, and to the occupant also via certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested that such an inspection is pending. The inspection shall be scheduled and conducted with the concurrence of the landowner and occupant.
C. Said Notice shall be deemed issued by mailing the same. In the event the landowner or occupant shall fail or refuse to accept the certified letter, the County Weed Coordinator, in cooperation with the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office, shall have authority to serve the Notice upon the landowner and/or occupant in the same manner as provided in Rule 4 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. Receipt of the Notice shall be established by the signature of the receiving party upon the return receipt or a copy of the Notice, or by successful service by the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office.
D. If the landowner or occupant denies access to the County, the County may seek an inspection warrant issued by a judge of the Pueblo County Court or another court of competent jurisdiction. In so doing, the County must file an affidavit stating:.
1. The information giving the County reasonable cause to believe that any provision of Title 35, Article 5.5, C.R.S. is being or has been violated;
2. That the landowner or occupant has denied access to the County;
3. A general description of the location of the affected land.
E. If the presence of a noxious weed infestation on the land is confirmed by the County or its agent, pursuant to such inspection, the County shall issue a Notice and Order to the landowner, via certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the owner at his or her last known address as indicated on the County's assessment roll, and to the occupant, also via certified U.S. mail. The Notice and Order shall:
1. Name the noxious weeds;
2. Advise the landowner or occupant to manage the noxious weeds; and
3. Specify the best available control methods of integrated management.
F. Said Notice and Order shall be deemed issued by mailing the same. In the event the landowner or occupant shall fail or refuse to accept the certified letter, the County Weed Coordinator, in cooperation with the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office, shall have authority to serve the Notice and Order upon the landowner and/or occupant in the same manner as provided in Rule 4 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. Receipt of the Notice and Order shall be established by the signature of the receiving party upon the return receipt or a copy of the Notice and Order, or by successful service by the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office.
G. Not longer than ten (10) days following the receipt of said notice, the landowner or occupant shall either:
1. Comply with the terms of the notice;
2. Acknowledge the terms of the notice and submit an acceptable plan and schedule for completion of the plan for compliance; or
3. Request an arbitration panel to determine the final management plan.
H. In order to develop an acceptable plan, the landowner or occupant may consult with the Pueblo County Weed Coordinator, CSU Cooperative Extension and other entities listed under the Technical Assistance section of the Pueblo County Weed Management Plan, as the same is amended from time to time. Any such plan must be approved by the Pueblo County Weed Coordinator. (Ord. 15 § 6)
A. If the landowner or occupant requests an arbitration panel, as set forth in Section 8.20.060(E), the Board shall select an arbitration panel comprised of:
1. A weed management specialist or weed scientist;
2. A landowner of similar land in the same county; and
3. A third panel member chosen by agreement of the first two members.
B. The landowner or occupant shall be entitled to challenge any one member of the panel, and the Board shall name a new panel member from the same category.
C. No less than ten (10) days prior to the date of the arbitration hearing, the Pueblo County Weed Coordinator, or his or her designee, shall mail notice of the date and place of the hearing via certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested, to the landowner and occupant, and any other party who has expressed an interest in the matter. The landowner and/or occupant shall have a full and fair opportunity to present any relevant evidence, including the testimony of witnesses, to the arbitration panel in order to establish why the Notice and Order should not be enforced or should be delayed in its enforcement. Interested County staff, including the County Weed Coordinator, any governmental agency or any other interested party shall have the same opportunity to present evidence, including the testimony of witnesses. The arbitration panel shall consider all such evidence and testimony in reaching its decision in accordance with this Ordinance and C.R.S. 35-5.5-101 et. seq.
D. The determination of the acceptable plan and method for the eradication or management of the noxious weeds shall be in the discretion of the arbitration panel.
E. The decision of the arbitration panel shall be final. (Ord. 15 § 7)
8.20.080 Eradication or management of noxious weeds by county Assessment of costs-Collection.
A. If any landowner or occupant fails or refuses to comply with the Notice and Order issued in accordance with Section 8.20.060, or with the plan developed by the arbitration panel, within ten (10) days from the date of the Notice and Order issued in accordance with Section 8.20.060 or within ten (10) days of the effective date of the arbitration panel's final decision resulting from a hearing in accordance with Section 8.20.070, the board shall have the authority to order the County Weed Coordinator to eradicate or manage such noxious weeds, either by and through County forces, contract, or otherwise. If the owner fails to pay the costs of such eradication or management within thirty (30) days of the County billing for such eradication or management, the whole costs thereof, including five (5) percent for inspection and incidental costs in connection therewith, shall be assessed upon the property from which such noxious weeds have been eradicated or on which such noxious weeds are being managed. Any assessment pursuant to this subsection shall be a lien against such property until paid and shall have priority over all other liens except general taxes and prior special assessments.
B. In case the assessment prescribed above in subsection (A) is not paid within ninety (90) days from the date of billing for such eradication or management of such noxious weeds by Pueblo County, such assessment may be certified by the Clerk and Recorder to the Treasurer, who shall collect such assessment, together with a ten (10) percent penalty for the cost of collection, in the same manner as other taxes are collected. The laws of the State of Colorado for assessment and collection of general taxes, including the laws for the sale and redemption of property for taxes, shall govern and apply to the collection of assessments pursuant to this subsection.
C. The County shall not assess the cost of providing for or compelling the management of noxious weeds on private property until the level of management called for in the Notice and Order issued pursuant to Section 8.20.060, or the management plan developed by the arbitration panel has been successfully achieved. (Ord. 15 § 8)
8.20.090 Administrative entry and seizure warrant.
A. No entry upon private property for the purpose of eradication or management of the noxious weeds shall be made until an administrative entry and seizure warrant has been obtained from the Pueblo County Court or another court of competent jurisdiction.
B. A sworn or affirmed affidavit shall be prepared and submitted, along with photographs and/or supporting documents, to the court. Said documents shall include a copy of the Notice and Order issued to the owner, a copy of the signed return receipt on the certified mail, or other proof of service, and a copy of the arbitration panel’s decision directing the eradication or management of the noxious weeds, if applicable. Said affidavit shall establish the factual information necessary for the issuance of a warrant, including a reasonably specific description of the location of the property, a description or depiction of the noxious weed infestation, and the method to be employed for accomplishing eradication or management of the noxious weeds.
C. Notice of the warrant shall be served in accordance with the directions of the issuing court and shall be served within ten (10) days following the court's issuance of the warrant. A copy of the issued warrant shall be personally served or mailed via certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested, to the landowner and occupant. Proof of service of the warrant or a copy of the signed return receipt on the certified mail shall be submitted to the issuing court.
D. In the event that the landowner or occupant fails to comply with the terms of the original Notice and Order, issued pursuant to Section 6 above, or with the plan developed by the arbitration panel within ten (10) days of service or mailing of the warrant, then such warrant may be executed in accordance with the directions of the issuing court. Proof of the execution of the warrant shall be submitted to the issuing court and a copy thereof served or mailed to the landowner and occupant, in the same manner as provided for in subsection (C) of this section.
E. Upon completion of the matter, the County Weed Coordinator shall inspect the property in the same manner provided for in Section 8.20.060 (B) through (D) and provide a comprehensive written report to the Board on its findings, no later than thirty (30) days following the completion of the work to eradicate or manage the noxious weed infestation. This report shall include a detailed itemization of all costs included and/or incurred in relation to carrying out the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 15 § 9)
All assessments, fees, penalties, fines, and other costs connected with any violation of this chapter, and all monies collected by, or on behalf of, Pueblo County pursuant to this chapter shall be paid over to the Pueblo County Treasurer immediately upon receipt thereof by the individual or entity receiving such monies. Upon receipt of such monies, the Treasurer shall deposit the same into the Pueblo County Weed Fund or any similar fund. (Ord. 15 § 10)
A. The prescribed sections of this Ordinance shall be administered and enforced by the Pueblo County Weed Coordinator, subject to the direction of the Board.
B. The Board hereby designates the County Attorney, or his/her designee, as the County's legal representative in the enforcement of the provisions of this Ordinance in any court of applicable jurisdiction. In the event the County Attorney or his/her designee cannot represent Pueblo County or the Board deems it otherwise appropriate, the Board may appoint the District Attorney of the 10th Judicial District to perform such legal enforcement duties in lieu of the County Attorney. (Ord. 15 § 11)
The remedies provided in this Ordinance shall be cumulative and in addition to any other remedies which may be available to the County and its Board. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to preclude the Board from seeking such other remedies in addition to, or in lieu of, the remedies granted herein. (Ord. 15 § 12)
The Board hereby finds, determines and declares that this chapter is necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Pueblo County, Colorado.. (Ord. 15 § 13)