Zoning violation decision upheld against Carbondale family
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – District Judge Gail Nichols denied Bill and Kimberly Vezzoso’s challenge to a Garfield County decision over zoning violations.In March 28, 2007, the county ordered the Vezzosos to stop or bring into compliance an excavation operation on their Willow Lane property near Carbondale. Complaints were made that the Vezzosos were processing dirt, resulting in excessive fumes, noise and heavy machinery that got worse over time and violated zoning regulations.The county investigated and issued several violations of the Agricultural Residential Rural Density zoning. Violations included illegal fencing, storage of heavy equipment and processing of natural resources without a special use permit. Commissioners then ordered the Vezzosos to cease excavation operations. Commissioner John Martin cast the lone vote in favor of the Vezzosos, saying they have a vested property right that must be maintained.One neighbor told commissioners smoke and dust were so thick at times that he couldn’t see his horses from one end of his pasture to the other. Another said her house would fill with diesel fumes. The Vezzosos appealed the commissioners’ decision but were denied by the county Board of Adjustment (BOA). They asked for reversal of that decision in a lawsuit, but a federal judge denied a federal civil rights claim, and Nichols denied the request for reversal on Aug. 6, finding that the BOA’s decision was supported by competent evidence.”Of course it is good news,” said county attorney Don Deford. “It supports our position that his appeal of the BOA decision was not well-based.”Vezzoso said he has nothing to say about the order.The Vezzosos argued that a citation for zoning violations in 1991 was dismissed after a county commissioner told them they could have 10 pieces of heavy equipment per five acres of land. The Vezzosos say they relied on the agreement and invested in their Independent Trucking excavation business because of it. They claim the county ignored certain testimony and is unfairly attacking their business in an attempt to shut it down.The excavation operation is just one of the bitter disputes between the Vezzosos and some neighbors on Willow Lane. The Vezzosos have accused a neighbor of shooting their dog and claiming it was because the dog was chasing his horses. Neighbors have accused the Vezzosos of putting in pig-pens right at the property lines just to cause a stink and punish them for complaining to the county, among other things.Neighbors say the Vezzosos brought in animals just before the county BOA hearing to make it appear their property was primarily agricultural, which would have excused a portion of the zoning violations.”Up until sometime shortly before the BOA hearing, there were no livestock on the property,” Nichols’ order states.Deford said all the Vezzosos’ claims have been “resolved,” but the county is still waiting for a ruling on a request for an injunction, which would allow the county to force the Vezzosos to comply with zoning regulations. He said the Vezzosos could potentially appeal Nichols’ order to the Colorado Court of Appeals.The Vezzosos created the http://www.stopgarcoinjustice.com website during the ordeal. The Vezzosos’ son said he built the website as a grassroots petition drive to hold local officials accountable. The family has said the website will be used to expose other injustices in the future, in addition to the story behind the Vezzosos’ zoning violations.”Actually, I never looked at it,” Deford said about the website. “I really just focus on the legal issues.”Contact Pete Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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