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Pink Bunny owners rile neighbors over accusations

Locations: News Published

Trustees hear both sides

John Colson

Sopris Sun Correspondent

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A spat between neighbors in old-town Carbondale, which in part evokes differing interpretations of the town’s historically relaxed and “funky” appearance, has erupted in recent meetings of the town’s board of trustees and sent town staffers searching into allegations of zoning code violations by one or the other neighbor.

The spat that got it all started is between Veronica Whitney and Charlie Wertheim, 660 Lincoln Ave., and their neighbors, Julia Farwell and David Galey, who live at 188 N. Seventh St. (at the corner of 7th and Lincoln).

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Their properties are adjacent to each other in the 600 block of Lincoln Avenue next to the Carbondale Recreation Center. Both properties are just south of an area of town affectionately called “The Architects’ Ghetto,” due to the number of architects who built distinctive homes there in the late 1990s and early 2000’s.

Whitney and Wertheim have been planning to build a bed and breakfast on a vacant lot that they own on Lincoln Avenue, which sits between their property and that of Farwell and Galey, and which features the Pink Bunny wire sculpture that once sat on Main Street as part of the Art aRound Town program.

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The Whitney/Wertheim development concept has been dubbed the Pink Bunny B&B.

Whitney appeared at the Sept. 23 meeting of the trustees to complain about what she feels is the unacceptably messy condition of her neighbor’s lot and driveway.

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Specifically, Whitney reported that Farwell and Galey last summer parked an RV in their drive, partially on what appears to be the town’s right of way, and had people living in it. In addition, she complained that her neighbors have stored a boat and snowmobiles improperly on their property, and have built a shed that she claims sits in the town’s right of way.

Regarding the storage of vehicles partially on the public right of way, Whitney told the trustees, “They keep calling it their driveway.

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“This (the public right of way) has become a parking lot” and “a big mess,” she concluded, to the point where she worries it will detract from the viability of the business they hope to create.

In response, Farwell showed up at the trustees meeting on Oct. 14 and declared that Whitney had “slandarized me” and had told “lies about my property.”

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The vehicles Whitney spoke of belong to Galey, Farwell told the trustees.

And while she conceded that the vehicles are sometimes stored on the property, it is only during “times when they are on our driveway for cleaning, repair work, etc.,” according to a copy of her remarks that she provided to The Sopris Sun.

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She maintained that her driveway does, in fact, cross a public right of way, but that the town has known of it and sanctioned the practice.

As for the RV, she acknowledged that it sat in front of her house for two and a half weeks last summer, while Galey’s mother was visiting in July, and that she was living in the RV to get some privacy and because she was allergic to Farwell’s cat.

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“Everybody (on) that side of the street uses the town right of way for personal use,” Farwell said, including Whitney, and Farwell denied Whitney’s charge that she had allowed others to live in the RV at different times.

The two parties lodged other complaints about each other, with Whitney demanding that the town investigate the matter and Farwell declaring that Whitney and Wertheim are “trying to push their aesthetic values” on others and create a spic-and-span appearance that runs counter to Carbondale’s funky heritage.

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“I’m asking you as trustees — don’t take the funk and the messy vitality out of old town. That’s just not cool and there will be a backlash from the masses who enjoy things just the way they are,” Farwell said. “Don’t funk with the funk, okay?”

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Invoking Hendricks

Farwell’s remarks echoed positions held by the late Brad Hendricks, who during a stint as a town trustee advocated an “ugly-up Carbondale” campaign to discourage unwanted growth by making the town less attractive to visitors and newcomers.

Town officials have indicated they do not believe there are any code violations involved in the dispute, although town manager Jay Harrington said it would take a formal survey to determine whether there is an unacceptable encroachment on the town’s right of way.

“At this point, we don’t see any compliance issues,” Harrington told The Sopris Sun, noting that “there’s always a level of gray area” whenever issues of code compliance are raised in such situations.

He added that, as of Tuesday, Whitney had not submitted a formal application to the town for a bed-and-breakfast on Lincoln, and that an application, if submitted, would go through the town’s review process.