INCLUSION OF SCAB, UNCLEARED OR GRAZING LANDS AND FOURTH CLASS CITY IN A WEED DISTRICT.
A petition for the formation of a weed district should list the boundaries of all lands to be excluded therefrom, but not necessarily by legal description.Incorporated limits of a town should not be included within the limits of a weed district.
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February 26, 1952
Honorable Alden B. Whelan
Prosecuting Attorney Island County
Coupeville, Washington Cite as: AGO 51-53 No. 241
You propound the following interrogatories:
(1) Should the county commissioners accept a petition for the formation of a weed district when the petition lacks a legal description of the scab, uncleared or grazing lands to be excluded from the proposed district?
(2) May the incorporated limits of a fourth class town be included in a weed district?
It is our conclusion that a petition for the formation of a weed district should list the boundaries of all lands to be excluded therefrom, but not necessarily by legal description. We further conclude that the incorporated limits of a town should not be included within the limits of a weed district.
(1) Rem. Rev. Stat., § 2771, Supp., relates to the establishment of a weed district and its boundaries. It reads:
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
"The boards of county commissioners of the respective counties may create a weed district or districts within their counties and enlarge any district, or reduce any district or create or combine or consolidate the districts, or divide or create new districts, from time to time, in the manner hereinafter provided, for the purpose of destroying, preventing and exterminating, or to prevent the introduction, propagation, cultivation or increase of, any particular weed, weeds or plants, or all weeds or plants, including Scotch broom, which are now or may hereafter be classed by the agricultural experiment station of the State College of Washington as noxious weeds, or plants detrimental to or destructive of crops, fruit trees, shrubs, valuable plants, forage, or other agricultural plants or produce. Any such district shall include not less than one section of land, and the boundaries thereof shall be along an established road, railroad, scab, uncleared or grazing land, or property line, or established lines, or some natural boundary, and shall include only cultivated or farming lands and shall not include any scab, uncleared or grazing land, except; such as shall lie wholly within cultivated or farming lands within the districts, or which lie adjacent to such cultivated or farming lands and which are infested with the particular weed or weeds to be destroyed, prevented and exterminated by such district: Provided, That any quarter section of land, or lesser legal subdivision in single ownership, fifty per cent (50%) of which is cultivated or farming land, shall be considered cultivated and farming land within the meaning of this act.
The succeeding statute, Rem. Rev. Stat., § 2772, authorizes freeholders to file a petition for the formation of a weed district with the board of county commissioners as follows:
"Any one or more freeholders owning more than fifty per cent of the acreage desired to be included within the proposed weed district may file a petition [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] with the board of county commissioners praying that their land be included, either separately or with other lands included in the petition, in a weed district to be formed for the purpose of destroying, preventing or exterminating any one or all such weeds, or that such lands be included within a district already formed, or a new district or districts to be formed out of any district or districts then existing. Such petition shall state the boundaries of the proposed district, the approximate number of acres in the proposed district, the particular weed or weeds to be destroyed, prevented or exterminated, the general method or means to be used in such work, and shall contain a list of all known land owners within the proposed district, together with the addresses of such land owners. Upon the filing of such petition the board of county commissioners shall fix a time for a hearing thereon, and shall give at least thirty days' notice of the time and place of such hearing by posting copies of such notice in three conspicuous places within the proposed district, one copy of which shall be at the main entrance to the court house, and by mailing a copy of such notice to each of the land owners named in the petition at the address therein named, and if any of the land described in the petition be owned by the state, a copy thereof shall be mailed to the state land commissioner at Olympia."
The petition in question, as aforenoted, makes no reference to "scab, uncleared or grazing land" (which we presume to exist), but merely states:
"Timbered lands shall be excluded except for an area of 50 feet back from the border adjacent to cultivated lands, roadways or other cleared areas on which prevention of seed set shall be practiced."
Section 2771,supra, dictates the exclusion of certain lands from the confines of a weed district. Fulfillment of this mandate results, perforce, in the creation of definite boundary lines. And, section 2772, supra, ordains that the "petition shall state the boundaries of the proposed district." Hence, we conclude that [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] the county commissioners should reject any petition for the formation of a weed district which does notdefinitely andprecisely set out all lines of division. How ever, the law does not require that the boundaries be listed by legal description. Compare section 2771 with Rem. Rev. Stat., section 7418.
(2) Rem. Rev. Stat., § 2775-1 orders cities or towns contiguous to or surrounded by a weed district to provide for the destruction, prevention, and extermination of all weeds in the same manner and to the same extent required by the weed district. Apparently, the legislature considered this mandate to suffice.
Therefore, county commissioners are not authorized to include a city or town within the extremes of a weed district. In fact, section 2771,supra, specifically states that the district "shall include only cultivated or farming lands."
Very truly yours,
ROBERT A. COMFORT
Assistant Attorney General