Noxious Weeds Act 46 of 2017
Pennsylvania recently enacted a new Chapter 15 in Title 3 (Agriculture) dealing with noxious weeds. The law was signed by Governor Wolf on October 30, 2017, effective December 29, 2017. The law creates a “Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee” that reviews applications and issues permits for the cultivation and control of noxious weeds. The most important aspects from a municipality’s standpoint are two-fold.
First, in the event the Committee issues a “control order” to a property owner regarding a noxious weed, if the property owner fails to abide by the control order, the Committee will notify the municipality to perform the steps set forth in the control order. Any costs incurred by the municipality in carrying out the control order is recoverable from the property owner who failed to carry out the control order.
Second, if a municipality has been regulating specific noxious weeds, such ordinances have now been pre-empted by the new law relative to any ordinances that may be in conflict. The current list of commonwealth-designated noxious weeds can be found in § 1519 of the law.
It bears noting that this new law does not change municipalities’ generally regulating through a “Weed Ordinance” that requires that property owners keep weeds cut and controlled on their properties. Rather, the new law authorizes only to the Commonwealth the ability to regulate specific types of weeds.