Fact Checking Local Journalism

February 13, 2018
Dear Salida Citizen:
Because the issues are contentious, complex and of public interest, Jan Wondra’s article A House, Some Hounds and Property Rights published in the January/February issue of Central Colorado Magazine is in need of a reasonable critique:

Barton/Vely agreed to allow a sound study to be taken near their property line and it was scheduled for September 2017 until Alison Brown and her attorney cancelled the study at the last moment (on the day it was scheduled). Barton/Vely opposed a sound study from their home, but because of the civil litigation- the court granted a sound expert access to the area near their home.

Noise measurement is justified by Chaffee County’s Limited Impact Review (LIR) procedures, but can be accomplished without coming further than 25 feet on neighboring property.* Brown’s LIR application(s) could have been submitted months ago.

  • The requirements for a LIR will be found in LUC Sec 4.2.3, and Sec 4.6.2, B "Basic Application Materials," C "Narrative," D maps, E "Impact Analysis" (which explicitly references noise, "The analysis shall consider at a minimum the potential impacts to nearby properties resulting from the project, including but not limited to: safety, water pollution, noise, vibration, smoke, dust, odor, heat, glare; wildfire, flood, or geologic hazard; and visual impact; and propose mitigations to minimize such impacts."), Land Suitability....

Wondra ignores the Colorado noise pollution statute and misrepresents its provisions. Per CRS 25-12-103(1), (2) and (3).

"(1) Every activity to which this article is applicable shall be conducted in a manner so that any noise produced is not objectionable due to intermittence, beat frequency, or shrillness. Sound levels of noise radiating from a property line at a distance of twenty-five feet or more therefrom in excess of the db(A) established for the following time periods and zones shall constitute prima facie evidence that such noise is a public nuisance:

Residential 55 db(A) 50 db(A)
Commercial 60 db(A) 55 db(A)
Light industrial 70 db(A) 65 db(A)
Industrial 80 db(A) 75 db(A)

(2) In the hours between 7:00 a.m. and the next 7:00 p.m., the noise levels permitted in subsection (1) of this section may be increased by ten db(A) for a period of not to exceed fifteen minutes in any one-hour period.

(3) Periodic, impulsive, or shrill noises shall be considered a public nuisance when such noises are at a sound level of five db(A) less than those listed in subsection (1) of this section."

Note that noise measurements are to be made 25 feet from a property line, not at a residence. Impulsive and shrill noises have a limit 5dB below the standard.

Note also that per Chaffee County LUC Sec 7.8.17, setting standards for kennels, Chaffee County adopts by reference the state standards for residential zones. The fact that Brown’s property is zoned rural is of no consequence to noise constraints if she is running a kennel.

Chaffee County did not insert itself into a dispute between neighbors. Because Brown was violating Chaffee County Land Use Code (LUC) it undertook to enforce it.

Wondra says Brown denies being an "outfitter." Note that Chaffee County doesn't define or regulate "outfitters." The Board of Adjustment (BOA) affirmed the staff finding that she was operating an "outfitting facility," defined by Chaffee County Co LUC Sec 15.2 as "The improved structures and facilities related to guiding services for outdoor expeditions, including fishing, camping, biking, motorized recreation and similar." Brown did not appeal the BOA decision. She has therefore admitted that she is operating an "outfitting facility."

Wondra buys into Brown’s misrepresentation that the Farm and Ranch Dispute Panel has some capacity to make decisions. It is a mediation panel. It has no capacity to decide anything. There have been three Court-ordered attempts at mediation with Brown: Vely v. Brown, Hutchings v. Brown and Chaffee County v. Brown, all before Judge Schlatter, none of which resulted in any settlement. Judge Schlatter has advised the Court that further mediation appears to be uncalled for.

Brown may meet Master of Foxhunting Association standards, but those standards do not include noise limits.

While anonymous ranchers may appreciate coyote chasing, the only rancher to testify at the dog-control citation trial, Joe Cogan, testified that in 60+ years of ranching, he had lost no livestock to coyotes.

Wondra confuses what having more than 7 dogs triggers. It does not trigger a ban. It triggers a "limited impact review." Wondra says, the county "proceeded with land use code changes of the number of dogs allowed on rural-zoned land; at one point limiting the number to six, then upping it by one, to seven." The county did no such thing, either on rural-zoned land or elsewhere. It simply required a LIR when more than seven dogs are concentrated for more than two weeks, on one parcel. It did not limit the number of dogs, only the number of dogs without oversight.

In January or February of 2017 Vely updated the petition to include Alison Brown’s explanation of what she claims “cubbing” is: Cubbing is a traditional, affectionate term for slow-paced, early season, training hunts to introduce young hounds to the pack (think of this as “cub scouts” for junior hounds). Ms. Brown and Ms. Wondra appear to ignore the OED definition of "cubbing" as 'Hunt fox cubs."

Brown’s employees have trespassed on the Barton/Vely property; Brown’s dogs have run at large on the Barton/Vely property (and front porch) and other Antelope Rd. properties; Brown’s dogs have left feces up and down Antelope Rd. and on the Barton/Vely property. This has been verified with documentation, photographs and video.

Alison Brown had similar issues in The City of Salida because of Nuisance Dog Barking (Salida Police Department CO 0080200, which is a public record). The narrative in part reads: there had been continuous dog barking throughout the night…Bill went on to say that this had been a continuous problem in the years that he had lived in this house…Bill has spoken with Alison on MANY occasions and the problem still exists. This narrative sounds very similar to the Barton/Vely’s experience with Brown.

Barton and Vely were friendly with Alison Brown before they purchased 11444 Antelope Rd. And prior to purchasing 11444 Antelope Rd. Brown told Barton and Vely that her hound dogs barked for 5-10 minutes in the morning and 5-10 minutes in the afternoon when they were being fed. Brown said that there were about fifteen dogs on her property. Shortly after Barton and Vely moved in to their new home, Brown’s hound dogs began barking for extended period of times during all hours of the day and night. This was brought to Brown’s attention and nothing was done by Brown. So noise citations were (and are still being) issued and civil law suits were filed. By September of 2016 there were over 25 dogs in Brown’s kennels and in 2017 there have been as many as 40 dogs kenneled on her property.

We believe every landowner along Antelope Rd. is against Brown’s commercial activities. Brown has brought nuisance noise, traffic, dog feces and trash to a beautiful part of Chaffee County.
John and Sandy Engelbrecht
Salida, CO

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