City orders man to clean up his Aspen property |

City orders man to clean up his Aspen property

Contributed photoRefrigerators, appliances and other items stack up around an Aspen man's home, which has been the subject of disdain amongst his neighbors for years. The city has ordered the property owner to remove the junk.

ASPEN – The city of Aspen has ordered an Aspen man to clean up his yard or face fines of up to $1,000 a day.

Mel Seid, who lives on Dale Street, has been cited 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.

Seid’s neighbors claim that not only are the hundreds of items strewn about his property an eyesore, they consider the site to be unsafe: gas cans sit next to propane tanks and car batteries. A refrigerator left outside in recent weeks had attracted a bear, prompting a visit by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

A formal complaint was filed late last month 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.

Stephen Kanipe, the city’s chief building officer, said he has been working with Seid to get the property cleaned up. Seid has until Sept. 23 to correct the code violation.

Seid declined to comment, except to say “It’s going to be taken care of.”

It appears Seid’s plan is to erect a shed to store his belongings that are currently littering the yard. Boxes of an unassembled shed are sitting on the ground in front of his property.

Kanipe confirmed that a shed is the intended solution.

The city code stipulates that the “keeping, storage or collection of junk” is not unlawful or a nuisance when it is in a completely enclosed building.

Neighbors said they have been complaining for years about the unkempt property but they’ve gotten no response from city officials – until recently.

Kanipe, as well as the city’s special counsel, Jim True, and neighbors met recently to discuss the formal complaint. True said if Seid doesn’t comply with the ordinance, he could be prosecuted in municipal court and face up to $1,000 a day in fines.

But Kanipe said that’s not the city’s preferred approach. Instead, an amicable resolution is hoped for.

“I’m working with Mel like crazy to get a resolution,” he said.

Kanipe said while he has known about neighbors’ issues with Seid for about two years, a real effort by the city to work with Seid on the issue didn’t commence until early July.

One resident who lives at Chateau Eau Claire, who asked not be identified, said the degraded property has been an issue for at least six years and the city was notified back then.

“I look right at it,” the resident said, adding the junk collection has grown over the years. “It’s a fire box … I don’t understand why they let this go on and on.”

Kanipe said Seid is a good person who likes to collect things, most of which have their purpose, according to Seid.

“It’s messy, and an issue that the neighbor’s filed a legitimate complaint about,” he said. “There’s no doubt that when you look at Mel’s yard there is violation of the junk ordinance.”

Another neighbor, who also requested anonymity, said the amount of stuff is unbelievable.

“You have to see it to believe it,” he said. “He’s got a bomb waiting to go off in the front yard.”

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