Aspen property owner slow to comply on cleanup of yard
ASPEN – An Aspen man is more than a week behind in his government-imposed deadline to clean up his yard, but city officials are giving him the benefit of the doubt in his commitment to correct the problem.
Mel Seid, who lives on Dale Street, was cited in August for violating city code 15.04.420, which prohibits the keeping of junk. To do so is considered a nuisance and is detrimental to the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of citizens, according to the city code.
City officials issued a correction notice that mandated the property be cleaned up by Sept. 23. Seid could face up to $1,000 in daily fines if he doesn’t comply.
As of Thursday, the property was still littered with appliances and other discarded items.
However, Seid’s efforts to clean up the property have not gone unnoticed by city officials.
“Mel is making noticeable progress,” wrote Stephen Kanipe, the city’s chief building officer, in an e-mail to The Aspen Times. “Much of the stuff is removed, a shed is being assembled and as long as the resolution continues to move toward compliance I am satisfied.”
But Seid’s neighbors are far from satisfied. They said they fear that their complaints to City Hall will once again be ignored and the fast-approaching winter months will cover up the unsightliness.
“This happens every year … Once we get a foot of snow it’s over,” said Eric Haynie, Seid’s next door neighbor. “He has been given deadlines before, and then it snows and we deal with it again in May.”
Haynie, who shares a common wall with Seid’s duplex, said he is afraid that all of the items on the property, including gas cans and propane tanks, are a fire hazard. He just recently put an escape ladder in his newborn child’s room because he’s fearful that the building could go up in flames.
Neighbors have been complaining for years about the unkempt property but have gotten minimal response from city officials.
A formal complaint was filed earlier this summer by Mickey Spalding, the property manager at the Chateau Eau Claire, a condominium complex located on Cooper Avenue and directly across the Roaring Fork River from Seid’s property.
Spalding said he’s disappointed that the matter hasn’t been resolved.
“We’re concerned nothing has been done; if anything it’s worse,” he said. “The ball is in the city’s court.
“They said the 23rd was the deadline. Let’s see what the city does.”
Spalding, who said he has known Seid for 40 years, said it’s nothing personal but as the property manager of rental and ownership condominiums, he has a responsibility to his guests and residents.
One condominium facing Seid’s property is up for sale and its owners are concerned that the unsightly views across the river will affect their property values, or prevent a sale.
Kanipe, as well as the city’s special counsel, Jim True, and neighbors met this summer to discuss Spalding’s formal complaint. True said if Seid doesn’t comply with the ordinance, he could be prosecuted in municipal court and face fines.
There are no plans to file a court complaint but there’s a possibility that could change in the coming weeks, True said, adding nothing has been brought forward by his colleagues in City Hall.
Kanipe told The Aspen Times last month that the city’s preferred approach is to find an amicable resolution, and not prosecute Seid.
Letting Seid slide yet another winter season won’t be tolerated by the neighbors, who are relying on city officials’ word that something will be done.
“It’s not going to be good enough for the neighbors,” Spalding said about the current effort. “The city has promised to do something, let’s see if they do.”
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