EL PASO COUNTY
STATE OF COLORADO

ORDINANCE NO. 92-2
REQUIRING THE REMOVAL OF WEEDS AND BRUSH

 

WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 30-15-401, C.R.S., the Board of County Commissioners of El Paso County, Colorado (hereinafter the "Board"), has the general enabling power to adopt ordinances for the control or licensing of those matters of purely local concern, and to do all acts and make all regulations which may be necessary or expedient for the promotion of health or the suppression of disease; and

WHEREAS, Section 30-15-401(l)(a)(I.5), C.R.S., specifically authorizes the adoption of ordinances and regulations to compel the removal of weeds and brush from residential lots of one acre or less within the unincorporated areas of El Paso County; and

WHEREAS, the Board has previously enacted ordinance 89-2, requiring the removal of weeds and brush; and

WHEREAS, Section 30-15-401(l)(a)(I.5), C.R.S., was modified in 1992 by H.B. 1156, which specifically authorizes the courts to issue administrative entry & seizure warrants in order that counties may perform by their own forces the removal of weeds and brush from private residential property; and

WHEREAS, residents of El Paso County continue to experience problems with weeds and brush upon adjacent or nearby residential properties; and

WHEREAS, it is the opinion of the Board that in order to preserve the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of El Paso County, the Board should take the following action.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the Board of County Commissioners of El Paso County, Colorado:

Section 1: Purpose.

The purpose of this Ordinance is to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens and residents of El Paso County, Colorado, by eliminating and controlling, to the extent possible, the growth and proliferation of weeds and brush within the County, which if not eliminated or controlled, can result in negative visual impact; incompatibility with existing land uses; a fire hazard; a traffic hazard; the clogging of drainage ways; and other detrimental health and safety impacts.

Section 2: Authority/Effect.

2.1 This Ordinance is authorized pursuant to, inter alia, part 1 of article 11 of title 30, part 4 of article 15 -of title 30, part 1 of article 20 of title 29, and articles 4 and 5 of title 35, C.R.S.

2.2 Ordinance 89-2, enacted July 13, 1989, is hereby repealed and replaced in whole by this Ordinance.

Section 3: Applicability,

3.1 This Ordinance shall apply throughout the unincorporated area of El Paso County including public and state lands.

3.2 This Ordinance shall apply within the corporate limits of

any incorporated town or city within El Paso County which elects by appropriate ordinance or resolution to have the provisions of this Ordinance apply therein, and upon which an intergovernmental agreement between El Paso County and such incorporated town or city has been entered into relating thereto.

Section 4: Definitions.

Board: The Board of County Commissioners of El Paso County, Colorado.

County: the unincorporated areas of El Paso County, including public and state lands, and the corporate limits of any incorporated town or city within El Paso County which elects by appropriate ordinance or resolution to have the provisions of this Ordinance apply therein and upon which an intergovernmental agreement between El Paso County and such incorporated town or city has been entered into relating thereto.

Owner: the owner of record, whether person, partnership, firm, corporation, governmental agency, or other association of persons, any authorized agent or representative of the owner of record, and any occupant of the premises.

Removal of Weeds and Brush: Subject to the provisions of subsection 6.3 below, the removal of weeds and brush may be accomplished by the continuous control/temporary removal of such weeds and brush including, by way of example only, the periodic mowing or cutting down of such weeds and brush or the complete destruction and eradication of such weeds and brush.

Weeds and Brush: Generally include any bush, shrub or low growth (but not less than 9")in height) forms of plant material which:

a. ordinarily grow without cultivation (i.e., not grown for the purpose of landscaping or food production) and are allowed to grow in such a manner, extent or condition that present problems related to public health, safety or welfare considerations; or

b. will attain such height (not less than 9") or grow in such accumulation or reach a level of dryness as to present a potential fire hazard.

Brush will typically not include any tree form of plant material. However, brush materials shall include any bush, shrub or tree form of plant material that is allowed to grow and develop with multi-cane or multi-trunk characteristics and that is growing in such locations that the plant material obscures, obstructs or otherwise impedes pedestrian or vehicular traffic along public access ways or that obscures, obstructs or otherwise impedes sight vision along such public access ways, to the detriment of public health and safety.

Section 5: Unlawful Acts.

5.1 It shall be unlawful for any owner to allow the accumulation and/or outgrowth of weeds and brush on any residential lot of one (1) acre or less within the County under such owner's control, possession, or ownership, or upon any alley or sidewalk adjacent to such residential lot.

5.2 It shall be unlawful for any person to fail or refuse to comply with any order issued pursuant to this ordinance.

Section 6: Notice and order for Removal of Weeds and Brush.

6.1 In the event that weeds and brush should outgrow and/or accumulate on any residential lot of one (1) acre or less within the County or upon any alley or sidewalk adjacent to such residential lot, such matter may be placed on the agenda for consideration at a regular meeting of the Board. In the event the Board determines that such condition does exist, it shall direct the issuance of a Notice and Order to the owner requiring the owner either to remove such weeds and brush within twenty (20) days from the date of said Notice and order or to appear before the Board within said twenty (20) days to show cause why said order should not be enforced.

6.2 Said Notice and Order shall be deemed issued by placing the same in the U.S. mails, certified, return receipt requested, to the owner’s last known address as indicated on the County’s assessment roll. In the event the owner shall fail or refuse to accept the certified letter, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office shall have authority to serve the notice and order upon the owner 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.

6.3 The Notice and Order prescribed in subsection 6.1 above shall specify the method for the removal of such weeds and brush. The determination of the acceptable method for the removal of weeds and brush shall be in the discretion of the Board, taking into consideration the severity and totality of the circumstances, the potential for erosion problems, and the recommendations of the County staff.

Section 7: Show Cause Hearing.

If within the twenty (20) days of the date of the Notice and Order issued under Section 6 above or prior to the Board authorization to remove the weeds and brush as provided in Section 8 below, the owner may request and shall be granted a show cause hearing before the Board. No less than three (3) days prior to the date of the show cause hearing, notice of the date and place of the hearing shall be placed in the U.S. mails, first class, to the owner and any other party who has expressed an interest in this matter. The owner shall have a full and fair opportunity to present any relevant evidence or witnesses to the Board in order to establish why the Notice and Order should not be enforced or delayed in its enforcement. Any other interested party shall have the same opportunity to present evidence or witnesses. The Board shall consider all such evidence and testimony, along with any presentation made by County staff or other governmental agency, in reaching its decision in accordance with this Ordinance.

Section 8: Removal of weeds and Brush Assessment of Costs; Collection.

8.1 If any owner fails or refuses to remove such weeds and brush within twenty (20) dlays from the date of the Notice and Order issued in accordance with Section 6 above or fails to change the decision of the Board in a show cause hearing in accordance with Section 7 above, the Board shall have the authority to remove such weeds and brush, either by and through County forces, contract, or otherwise. If the owner fails to pay the costs of removal within five (5) days of removal, the whole cost thereof, including ten (10) percent for inspection and incidental costs in connection therewith, may be assessed upon the property from which such weeds and brush have been removed. Any assessment pursuant to this subsection 8.1 shall be a lien against such property until paid and shall have priority over all other liens except general taxes and prior special assessments.

8.2 In case the assessment prescribed in subsection 8.1 above is not paid within ninety (90) days from the date of removal of such weeds and brush by El Paso County, such assessment may be certified to the El Paso County 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 8.2.

Section 9: Emergency order.

9.1 Whenever the Board deems that an emergency exists which requires immediate action to protect the public health, safety and welfare, the Board may, without prior notice or hearing, issue an Order stating that such emergency exists and requiring that such action be taken as deemed necessary to meet the emergency. Notwithstanding any provision of this Ordinance to the contrary, such order shall be effective immediately.

9.2 Any person to whom such emergency Order is issued shall comply therewith immediately, and it shall be unlawful to fail or refuse to so comply.

9.3 In the event that the person to whom such emergency order is issued fails or refuses to immediately comply therewith, the Board may, without prior notice to the owner, occupant or agent of the owner, provide through County forces, contract, or otherwise, to remove, correct or otherwise abate the condition giving rise to the issuance of the emergency order, and to assess and collect the whole cost thereof to the owner of the affected property in accordance with Section 8 above.

Section 10: Enforcement.

10.1 The above prescribed sections of this Ordinance shall be administered and enforced by the El Paso County Planning Department through its Code Enforcement Section.

10.2 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 El Paso County or the Board deems it otherwise appropriate, the Board may appoint the District Attorney of the 4th Judicial District to perform such legal enforcement duties in lieu of the County Attorney.

Section 11: Administrative Entry & Seizure Warrant,

11.1 No entry upon private property for the purpose of weeds and brush removal shall be made until an administrative entry and seizure warrant has been obtained from a court of competent jurisdiction.

11.2 A sworn or affirmed affidavit shall be prepared and submitted along with supporting documents or pictures to the court. Said documents copy of this ordinance, a copy of the Notice and Order issued and signed return receipt service, and a copy of the weeds or brush. supporting documents or pictures to the shall include a copy of this ordinance, 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 Board resolution directing the removal of the weeds or brush. 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 weeds to be removed from the property, and the method of limitation or eradication of the weeds or brush.

11.3 Within ten (10) days following the date of issuance of an administrative entry and seizure warrant, the warrant shall be fully executed in accordance with the directions of the issuing court; a copy of the issued warrant shall be provided or mailed, first class, to the owner; and proof of execution of the warrant shall be submitted to the issuing court.

Section 12: Criminal Prosecution.

12.1 If so directed by the Board, a criminal prosecution may be brought against the owner in accordance with Sections 30-15-402 and -410, C.R.S.

12.2 Each day that such weeds or brush continues unremoved from the premises after the date of expiration of the twenty (20) day period prescribed in section 6 above shall constitute a separate violation.

12.3 Violation of the provisions of this Ordinance shall be punishable by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars ($300) for each violation.

12.4 All fines and forfeitures for the violation of this Ordinance shall be paid to the Treasurer of El Paso County within thirty (30) days of receipt and shall be deposited into the General Fund of the County.

Section 13: Additional Remedies.

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 herein granted.

Section 14: Safety Clause.

The Board hereby find, determines and declares that this Ordinance is necessary for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of El Paso County, Colorado.

Section 15: Severabilitv Clause.

If any section, subsection, clause or phrase of this Ordinance is, for any reason, held to be invalid, such holding shall not effect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance.

Section 16: Publication and Effective Date.

The foregoing text is the authentic text of El Paso County ordinance No. 92-2.

The first reading of said ordinance took place on August 3, 1992. It was published in full in the in the El Paso County Advertiser and News on August 12, 1992.

It was adopted, without amendment, on August 31, 1992, and is to be republished by title in the El Paso County Advertiser and News on September 2, 1992, and shall take effect October 2, 1992.

DONE AND SIGNED this 31st day of August, 1992, at Colorado Springs, Colorado.

I hereby certify and attest that the provisions Of Section 16, Ordinance No. 92-2, as set forth hereinabove are true and correct to the best of my knowledge, information and belief.