Settlement reached in Aspen public nuisance lawsuit
ASPEN – An Aspen man accused of neglecting his duplex unit has ended a legal feud with his next-door property owner. Mel Seid, who was hit with a public nuisance lawsuit last year, bought his neighbor’s duplex unit on July 12, effectively settling the dispute.The outcome of the settlement, which District Judge Gail Nichols approved on July 17, is reflected in a joint filing made Monday in Pitkin County District Court by Seid and plaintiff Emerging Companies Inc. of Boulder.Attorneys for Seid and Emerging Companies did not return phone messages Tuesday, but court filings dating back to last year spell out the friction between both sides.Emerging Companies, in a lawsuit filed by Boulder lawyer Lew M. Harstead in May 2010, contended Seid’s unit at 1104 Dale Ave. in Aspen had fallen into a state of disrepair and endangered the “health, safety and welfare of neighboring property owners and residents.”Emerging Companies owned the unit next door to Seid’s, and had contended that a family that had rented the unit was forced to move out because of the conditions – among them natural gas leaks, a clothes washer in the front yard, and potential danger posed by electrical wiring.Seid, court documents show, was cooperative during the lawsuit and a self-admitted compulsive hoarder whose unit was cluttered with mounds of meaningless belongings.Despite the compulsion, Seid’s lawyers argued he still had rights to live to his liking. Among their contentions were that because a judge had declared a homeowners covenant unenforceable – the plaintiffs had asserted the covenant required Seid to maintain a certain level of “good taste and repair” at his unit – Seid had “a legally protected interest and constitutional right in the privacy and seclusion of his self and his private residence.” The lawsuit’s objective to “force Mr. Seid to maintain the interior of his home … is contrary to public policy and violative of Mr. Seid’s constitutional right to privacy and seclusion with the sanctuary of his private residence,” Seid’s lawyers wrote in court filings. Even so, a judge allowed Emerging Companies to hire an forensic engineering firm to inspect both of the duplex’s units on Feb. 18. As Seid and his two attorneys looked on, representatives from Higgins & Associates Inc., based in Morrison, Colo., inspected the residence under a judge’s order that prohibited them from moving anything inside or outside the unit, according to an exhibit in the lawsuit.”It is our opinion numerous hazardous conditions exist at the Seid unit that directly impact tenants living at both sides of the duplex,” wrote inspector Michael Higgins. “The large amount of flammable debris present both inside and outside the Seid unit creates a significant fire hazard and increases the risk of rapid flame spread to the [Emerging Companies] unit should a blaze occur at the Seid unit.”For now, however, the legal issue appears settled. Public records indicate Seid bought the neighboring unit on July 12 through a bargain sale and deed, conveying a $900,000 deed of trust to the Emerging Companies. And in the joint quiet title action filed Monday by Seid and Emerging Companies, the tandem seeks to clear any confusion about the owner of the duplex is indeed Seid. Less clear, however, is if Seid plans to upgrade his home’s firstname.lastname@example.org
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