Oklahoma Flats resident Larry Mayer lives in a duplex on North Spring Street with seven of his friends. He describes it as the last old-time, country-style dwelling in a neighborhood that’s been phased out by multimillion-dollar homes.
Matt Ferguson, the attorney for Mayer’s neighbor Denice Reich, sees it differently. In an email to the Aspen City Council, Ferguson describes the Mayer residence as a “flop house,” full of “obnoxious” and “illegal” activity. Among Reich’s complaints are loud parties lasting late into the night, airborne beer bottles, illegal drug activity, wandering dogs, abandoned vehicles and an unkempt lawn littered with belongings that overstep the property line.
On Tuesday, Mayer adamantly denied the allegations, saying all of his dogs wear shock collars, all vehicles are registered and running, and any hinting at drug dealing is “a total lie.” He said he has a medical marijuana license, which he uses to smoke pot and hash for a back injury. He admitted they do throw the occasional party, where visitors wander down to the “beach” on the Roaring Fork River, drink a cocktail, smoke a joint and watch the sun set.
“Yeah, sometimes we have a fire pit. We play our stereo a little bit,” said Mayer, who has lived on Spring Street for 53 years. “We have life down there. Her place has no sign of life. Makes me sick.”
Reich claims that the atmosphere at the Mayer Lots, located at 445 and 433 N. Spring St., has made it difficult to rent her property, located at 375 N. Spring St. But Mayer said the reason she can’t rent her property is because she “wants $50,000 a month.” He also said one of Reich’s renters, a man he referred to as “Dr. Bob,” would spend every night hanging out with him and his friends at the beach.
Reich, who has lived in Aspen since 1945, said the dispute with Mayer and his family member dates back 30 years. In the email to the council, Ferguson wrote that the city has turned a blind eye to the matter and that it’s time for government to step in.
City attorney Jim True said he has been in contact with Mayer’s lawyer, Paul Taddune, about correcting one or two issues on the property, though he added that the city does not agree with all of Ferguson’s claims.
“I want to emphasize that we have been looking at Mr. Ferguson’s complaints, and we have performed our own investigation of the situation,” True said. “We are continuing our efforts to investigate and to resolve problems or violations that may exist on the property.”
True advised Ferguson that if he wishes for the council to address the issue, he should speak up during the public-comment portion at an upcoming meeting, though he said he does not believe council chambers is the proper venue for the dispute. Ferguson said he will bring the matter before the council one way or another.
“We’ve been waiting too long,” Ferguson said. “I hope it’s not stuck in the public comments. We’d just like to have a 10-minute agenda item.”
Citing transient individuals and ramshackle property in a city right of way on Francis Street, Ferguson said the matter is of public concern. But Mayer said it is Reich who has claimed the city right of way for herself by paving half of it and putting up a fence.
According to Reich, the Mayers purchased the property from her family in 1954 for $250. Mayer said that when the purchase was made, a stipulation was included that would allow the property to retain its original “country style” zoning.
“Everywhere else in Oklahoma Flats is now zoned to where you can put up these huge houses, and ours remains country-like zoning,” he said.