Letter: Code versus tradition in Carbondale
At a recent Carbondale council meeting I, and maybe several council members, learned that when it comes to code enforcement, sometimes there seems to be a split between code versus tradition.
I brought up an issue I had with the usage of public right of way. The town has a code on this that says vehicles can’t be left more than 72 hours on public right of way. Our neighbor had a very large RV completely on the right of way for a month with a person living in it. Unfortunately when we tried to talk to her, she wasn’t receptive to find a potential solution.
When I went in front of council with the issue, Chief Schilling explained that he treats improved right of way in a different way than unimproved right of way. Our particular issue is in an unimproved stretch. He said he doesn’t apply the 72-hour rule to the unimproved ROW. Several council members were quite surprised and seemed as confused as I am about this.
Also the chief told council that he is OK with letting RVs park on ROW for four weeks with people living in them, even though existing code says it isn’t OK. Again, several council members seemed a little shocked, and most said this should be changed, since the town now has a perfectly nice RV park.
So this is the part I called the tradition. There is a code, but it has been interpreted by town staff and therefore it isn’t consistent and is confusing to residents and potential developers.
The town manager told a Sopris Sun reporter that “there’s always a level of gray area” whenever issues of code compliance are raised in such situations. The reality is a property line is pretty much black and white and it doesn’t take a lot of work to figure out where it is.
The town is spending about $100,000 on the new town code and comprehensive plans. What will happen with this new code? Will it also suffer the interpretation of town staff and then change in time to whatever they think it should be, becoming a new tradition?
I find there is a double standard that is unfair to neighbors who play by the rules. This has nothing to do with the town being “funky.” Does been funky mean it’s OK to break the codes? Then maybe we shouldn’t spend anymore money in changing the existing ones.
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