Clean up your yard, Minturn says |

Clean up your yard, Minturn says

Steve Lynn
Vail CO, Colorado

MINTURN ” Garbage-filled bags, metal pipes, ladders ” and an oven ” are separated and neatly stacked on Willie Joe Trujillo’s property.

“I could care less what anybody does on their property,” said Trujillo, Minturn resident since 1955.

“I don’t call this junk because I recycle this stuff,” he added, acknowledging that the bulk of the junk has sat on his lawn for two years.

Minturn residents like Trujillo may have to start their spring cleaning soon. Based on a response to a 2005 survey of the town, town councilors are following the residents’ call to get Minturn to tidy up. The town wants residents to clean up rubbish on their property that violates Minturn’s nuisance ordinance. Town staffers have already looked at commercial properties on the town’s north side, and they could start peeping in residents’ yards as early as Wednesday, said Chris Cerimele of the planning department.

Cerimele took pictures of the yards in January and March and found that Mayor Gordon “Hawkeye” Flaherty and Councilor Shelley Bellm were in violation of the nuisance ordinance both times, he said.

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Flaherty called himself an example of the process, but disputes some of the documentation.

“They took one set of pictures,” he said.

The ordinance defines a nuisance as anything from garbage to abandoned cars and trucks to bricks and wheels stacked in councilors’ yards. Staffers will start on the north side of town and make their way south. They will continue to monitor people’s yards throughout the year, said Town Manager Ann Capela.

Bellm has bricks stacked on her property for her driveway and hasn’t had a chance to pave it. Councilors have asked her for a deadline, but the snow hasn’t melted yet, she said.

“I have to follow the same thing as everyone else,” she said.

If town staffers find nuisances, residents must come to the planning department to discuss ways to fix the problem, Capela said. Residents also may appeal violations, she said.

Minturn will require that businesses on property next to the railroad put up more fences to hide some of their equipment and materials, said Jerry Bumgarner, town councilor.

Lisa Fox thinks people should keep their yards clean, despite the chopped wood and other junk lying around her home. She runs her gift basket business, Basket Providers, out of her Minturn home and her two golden retrievers like to drag her materials outside, she said.

She takes responsibility for some of the mess, she said.

“In the winter, it’s easy to throw everything outside,” Fox said. “But when the snow melts, I’m in a big hurry to clean it up.”

Tom Hays thinks fellow Minturn residents should take pride in what they own by removing junk from their properties, he said.

“People say, ‘That’s one of the beauties of Minturn,’ if you will, but I think sometimes that’s taken a little too far,” said Hays, Minturn resident.

Hays supports cleaning up junk, but he hopes town staffers don’t enforce the ordinance too broadly.

“Would that mean I can’t hang out my laundry, like in Vail?” he said.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or

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