SILT, Colorado - A 20-year resident, due in municipal court on Dec. 17, has decried what he said is the heavy hand of an overzealous town government.
Mark Anderson said the town government wants him to remove several large vehicles and clean up his property at 230 N. Seventh St., which is across the street from Town Hall.
"I feel like I'm the victim in this case," said Anderson, following a Silt Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 10.
At that meeting, he told the trustees he had lived in Silt for 20 years without any troubles like this. He said the citation is a sign of "the heavy hand ...," but was interrupted before he could finish the statement.
The trustees told Anderson there was nothing they could do in the matter, and advised him to go to court and see what happens.
At issue is a semi-trailer and two camper trailers Anderson keeps on his property. And in a June 4 memo, town planner Janet Aluise described Anderson's yard as "brimming with scrap metal, trash, junk, rubbish and about two feet of fill [dirt]."
A July 12 Silt Police Department report calls Anderson's property a "public nuisance" that violates a town ordinance requiring property owners to maintain their property.
Silt's nuisance code refers to property cluttered by "weeds, brush, trash, junk and rubbish not kept within a completely enclosed building." No mention is made of large-vehicle storage.
According to Anderson, he was told back in 2000 by an unnamed town official that his property posed no problems for the town.
Trustee Paul Taylor, at the Dec. 10 trustee meeting, told Anderson that the individual who said the arrangement was acceptable "is no longer with the town" and that Anderson should not rely on that particular piece of advice.
Trustee Rick Aluise, husband of the town planner, concurred with Taylor.
"This isn't a recent problem," Aluise said.
Aluise said the town has been trying for 10 years to get Anderson to clear the stored vehicles off his land.
"We had angry discussions about it for years," at town meetings, he said.
Taylor said bees and mice build nests in the vehicles and become a nuisance in the neighborhood.
"The violation is blatant. It's there. You've been notified of it and now you've got to deal with the court system," Taylor told Anderson at the meeting.
"Our hands are tied right now. We can't do any more," said Mayor Dave Moore, who said he had not known of the matter until it came up recently.
Anderson said in a telephone interview on Dec. 12 that last July he was given 30 days to move the vehicles and clean up the yard.
"At the time, it seemed like an insurmountable project," Anderson said.
He said he was working long days at the time, and a family illness interfered with his cleanup plans.
One day in early August, Anderson said, a police officer showed up and told him they could see he was making progress, implying that no official punitive action was pending.
But later that month, Anderson said, a group of town officials gathered outside his fence to inspect his property. "They were laughing about it," he said.
Before long, he said, the same officer showed up with a court summons.