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HOFFMAN: Mesa County junks its own ordinance

Jim Hoffman
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Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist

It is a slow, maddening descent into hell, a slow boat to China; it is Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

If you are unfortunate enough to live in Mesa County and have a neighbor with a predilection to collecting junk or storing garbage on their premises, you had better just get used to the situation. While Mesa County does have rules, ordinances and the like to prevent zoning violations, enforcement seems to be another thing entirely.

Maybe they do not have enough employees to enforce rules. Maybe they just do not want to be bad guys. Maybe they do not care. Case in point: You may recall (humor me by pretending you are a dedicated reader and remember earlier columns) we discussed the visual blight developing to the north of I-70 on the eastern edge of our city.



The county announced that those rapidly developing junkyards had entered into “voluntary” agreements to clean up. In no real surprise to those who have witnessed clean-ups in the past, there is no improvement in the problem and some properties have obviously worsened. Voluntary compliance has become a catch-all that allows county employees to report resolution and claim victory.

In actuality, this is a report of a personal journey into the quagmire of trashy neighbors and the glacial pace at which bureaucracy seems to inch forward. As best as I can determine, the county may contact the property owner against whom you complained within 30 days or so after you filed the complaint. When you have not seen (in your subjective opinion) significant improvement after 90 days or so, you may wish to e-mail the county and ask them what the heck is going on as they have not taken any effort to keep you informed.



At this point in time, they may return your e-mail with photos showing that some of the offending trash is no longer present…ergo improvement! The file remains open and there may be future improvement. Of one thing I am certain, were this offending home the inspector’s neighbor, his subjective determination of improvement may be somewhat skewed in the opposite direction. As is said in infomercials, “But, WAIT there’s more”!

It would seem another neighbor just two doors away has decided to begin collecting and storing garbage in an open outdoor area. As you can imagine as those temperatures begin to soar into the high 90s and low 100s that pile has become somewhat odiferous. We have eyesores and we have public health hazards both of which represent an unwholesome life experience and threaten already tenuous property values. It would certainly be a challenge for your friendly Realtor to market your property effectively if it were bracketed by a junkyard on one side and a rotting compost heap on the other.

The county was informed via email of the rotting pile of garbage two weeks ago. There has been no acknowledgement of receipt of the “Citizen Complaint Form” and the pile of garbage continues to rot, smell and invite vermin. Again, one would guess the response (lack of) and timeliness of response would be somewhat different if this occurred in a county commissioner’s neighborhood. One could speculate that response would be more rapid and enforcement more forceful, but that is only speculation.

MORE BRAINARD NEWS

The Chamber of Commerce announces continuing, but tepid, support for Brainard. They promise to reassess their love affair with Brainard should the citizenry take the steps necessary to recall him. Looks like the Chamber is tempering their support but at the same time betting the voters of Grand Junction lack the motivation to follow through on threats to recall the convicted councilor.

Since the arrest and conviction of Brainard, the Chamber has been active in its attempts to burnish its image with the public. In a rather confusing move, Diane Schwenke’s Facebook page showed that she liked a page “Employers against Domestic Violence.” That is certainly a somewhat confused and muddled PR attempt from the leader of an organization that continues to voice support for Brainard. Certainly, there must be a PR firm among the Chamber’s membership. Diane and Rick should both ask for some guidance as their efforts to date have been ironic, somewhat humorous and pathetically ineffective. How could we forget Rick’s generous donation of his campaign contributor’s funds to help battle domestic violence?

On the good news side of the coin — Rick has another job! On the silly side of the coin, his employer needs to ask a judge’s permission to send him out of town for work assignments. Curious minds want to know: Who exactly is this new employer?

Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at freepressjim@gmail.com.


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