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Old 12-08-2011, 08:56 PM
 
122 posts, read 189,134 times
Reputation: 243

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Maybe this will generate some conversation.

Maybe it will serve as a cautionary tale.

I read, in one thread, where a poster intimated that Fort Collins REALLY enjoys news that paints itself in a favorable light.

I couldn't agree more.

I like a lot of things about Fort Collins, but ... it might have killed me, yet.

Literally.

My story.....

Two elite Fort Collins (Colorado) athletes and their friends tormented a disabled person .... month after month after month ... to the point that his health utterly failed.

And now ... Big Insurance is looking to bankrupt the disabled guy, leaving him unable to pay for his ongoing medical care -- a classic 1%'er vs. 99%'er story.

I have significant problems with my eyes. For over six years, ONE of those problems was treated with eye drops, a treatment that -- while it DID allow me to return to work, after a lengthy period of disability -- chemically burned my corneas.

As it turns out, the preservatives IN those eye drops are known to be toxic TO corneas.

I live with constant eye pain, and -- since we can no longer treat the underlying eye issues -- I was declared medically disabled in 2004, and am on Social Security, at age 47.

I also have a Primary Immune Dysfunction. I am very susceptible to illness -- particularly if something affects my sleep, my diet, or my stress level.

And "something" did.

My wife and I moved to Fort Collins, to buy our first home, in late 2008.

We rented for a couple of months, during the completion of our house. We took possession of our new house in 2/09.

Our house -- as it turns out -- is situated on our lot in such a way that our master bedroom is ENTIRELY IN our neighbors' back yard. We didn't know this when we bought the house. It was just a floor plan, on paper.

Our neighbors -- as it turns out -- were (they moved out in the Summer of 2011) the owners of barking dogs. The barking woke me up in the 6am hour. It woke me up in the 11p to midnight hour. It kept me from napping, as the dogs would bark for hours on end, day after day, all day long.

Month after month after month.

We didn't know THIS part either.

Within WEEKS, this led to a precipitous decline in my health, an increase in my eye issues, and an increase in my eye pain.

Which led to me being prescribed increased pain medicine.

Which led to several cycles of physiological dependence, withdrawal, and ... suffering -- a time I can only refer to, now, as sheer hell.

That's the beginning of the story.

Now ... from 35,000 feet ....

Our dog-owning neighbors are -- literally -- champion bicycle racers.

She is the #1 ranked women's cyclist in the United States. Her husband is a highly-ranked amateur racer.

I wrote several civil, reasonable, and plaintive e-mails to my dog-owning neighbors, begging them to curb the barking, telling them it was causing me serious harm, explaining that I'm medically disabled, and asking them to help me, by simply training their dogs not to bark needlessly.

In short, they wouldn't comply, and resented being asked.

We later found out, they also didn't believe there was anything medically wrong with me, since "they had seen me on my bicycle" before. On good days, I can ride my bike.

Neither the Larimer County Animal Control Department, the Fort Collins Police Department, nor the City of Fort Collins Mediator ... truly responded in anything like a fair, objective, and reasonable manner.

Animal Control maintained that they needed at least TWO complaints from at least TWO separate addresses (in stark contradiction with their ACTUAL policy), even though nobody else's bedroom was IN the neighbors back yard, and even though nobody else was home all day to be disturbed BY the constant barking.

The barking constituted a violation of the City's Noise Ordinance, but the Police Department said that -- in the case of animal noise -- they will ONLY act if a case is referred TO them BY Animal Control.

Catch-22. Not an unusual situation, as I later learned. It's very common, in communities around the country. One agency points at the other, and neither acts.

The City Mediator -- as we later found out -- was previously acquainted with the dog owners, and -- while she had lengthy e-mail correspondence with THEM -- she never even spoke to me, took my calls, or answered my e-mails.

It was an ambush, on every front.

Our neighborhood is extremely close-knit. We were among the last to move into this community. It is covenant-controlled, and governed by an HOA. It "celebrates itself" in much the same way that Fort Collins does.

The Property Manager was my next avenue, in trying to get the barking to stop.

She promised to solve the problem, but -- when the HOA (CLOSE friends of my neighbors) Board of Directors VP got word of this, he "called the Property Manager off," "ordering" her to take NO FURTHER ACTION.

The barking ... and the chronic sleep disruption ... continued, unabated, and my overall health got worse. I was put on long-term antibiotics for a sinus infection that would not go away.

I finally wrote TO the Board of Directors, directly -- the only name I could get FROM the Property Manager -- the VP who was best friends with my neighbors.

I begged him to help.

He wrote me a horrible, scathing e-mail, in response -- nothing more than a string of mean-spirited, personal, and baseless attacks on me. This man ... who had only ever MET me, once, in the streets -- allegedly speaking for neighbors who -- themselves -- had probably never even MET me -- viciously attacked my character, rather than address the truth of the situation.

I retained counsel. I was too sick to consider something as arduous as trying to find a house, and moving. I was non-functional.

We filed a lawsuit against the HOA for Breach of Contract, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Failure to Enforce Covenants, and ... probably one or two other things.

We sued the neighbors for Private Nuisance and Breach of Covenants.

We recently lost a Motion for Summary Judgment hearing, in favor of the HOA.

The Judge -- Eighth Judicial District Judge Daniel Kaup -- decided that the HOA had no obligation to act, in my situation, and -- by implication -- that no matter how egregious the actions OF the HOA WERE -- they were legally okay, despite a fiduciary obligation TO the homeowners, a duty of "utmost good faith," and a prohibition against the sort of "arbitrary and capricious" behavior that they so clearly demonstrated, in deciding what they would and wouldn't do.

Among the other impacts of this decision, it has emboldened the HOA Vice President, who now verbally torments me, whenever he sees me. I finally filed a police report against HIM, and against his next door neighbor, who tried to run me off the road with his truck.

He taunted me again, just a few days ago.

This HOA Vice President is an athlete, a hunter, and generally a young man who seems in robust good health, and -- presumably -- gets great joy and satisfaction from tormenting a disabled guy.

When we moved into this house, my neighbors' dogs were puppies. After months of incessant barking, I told my neighbors that -- along WITH the toll that it was taking on me -- the barking did NOT seem normal, and that their dogs might NOT BE OKAY.

The neighbors -- first-time dog owners -- denied that, took significant offense to that, and dug their heels in even further.

About a year ago, the primary barker of the two sister puppies died, at age two, from an autoimmune disease.

Either the stress of being left alone CAUSED the disease or the barking was a symptom OF the disease. Either way....

In other words, my neighbors had killed their dog, and -- in effect -- are coming dangerously close to killing me.

The constant sleep disruption meant that I could not insert the $12,000, fluid-filled, custom prosthetic lenses that I MUST wear during ALL waking hours to protect my burned eyes from the harsh environment of Colorado.

I'm not allowed to sleep in them, and had to TRY to sleep whenever I could, to make up for the sleep disruption.

But ... being without my lenses -- sometimes for days at a time -- caused multiple corneal problems, deemed sight-threatening, and which forced me to DRIVE to Boston to be seen, evaluated, and treated -- a six-week stay -- and .... more torture.

As the problem continued, my neighbors wrote to every member of this community, telling a horribly one-sided, dishonest, and inaccurate story about me, and about the situation, telling the neighbors that I was trying to force them to get rid of -- or in one particular case -- force them to euthanize -- their dogs.

Patently untrue. I LOVE dogs. I just asked them to train THEIR dogs to stop the unnecessary barking so that I could sleep.

After two years of antibiotics, I STILL cannot beat the sinus (and other) infection. Neither did 30 days of steroids effect it. I have been battling fungal, viral, and bacterial infections. The immune disorder renders me more susceptible to these things.

I was recently started on a six-month trial of Intravenous Immune Globulin. I have no idea whether my Medicare will cover it. The Boston Foundation for Sight told me that I MUST return, annually, for follow up care. The unreimbursed portion of THAT trip has averaged $12,000 each time.

The Judge just awarded the attorneys for HOA and its VP ... $73,000 in fees and costs. This represents my wife's and my life savings, and will leave me unable to pay for the unreimbursed portions of my ongoing medical care, setting aside for the moment things like income taxes, and the cost of selling our house and moving OUT of this neighborhood.

It seems a virtual certainty that Judge Kaup's decision, and -- ultimately -- the actions of my neighbors and this neighborhood -- will drive my wife and me into bankruptcy, IF that is even an option. Every time I consider this prospect, I break down in tears.

You can imagine the stress it has also placed on my marriage.

And all because a disabled guy wanted to sleep in his own new home. That's it. No more. No less.

There has been a systemic failure to deliver aid, assistance, or justice in this situation, at every turn. There's something horribly wrong with the residents of this particular neighborhood, and with these governmental processes, in this "fine city" of Fort Collins.

I am a good, decent, compassionate, giving, caring, and kind person. I acted civilly, appropriately, within the law, and in a very "measured" way, at every step. I also never did anything to any of these people, am now in medical and financial jeopardy and ... an emotional wreck.

This is all documented. There's no "he said, she said" here. I conducted all of these correspondence via e-mail ... too sick to knock on doors. The rest of the story is in writing, in sworn Depositions, from the relevant players.

Fort Collins may HAVE a lot to offer, but ... something is terribly rotten in Denmark ... in this case.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:18 AM
 
Location: Fort Collins, CO
166 posts, read 393,762 times
Reputation: 293
I'm sorry about the toll all this has taken on your health and well-being. I hope your new home is better suited to your need for peace and quiet. I don't diminish how hard this has been for you, but maybe a 'neighborhood' isnt going to be the best fit, since you cannot control who buys the house next door. Maybe something on a couple of acres to ensure a good distance from your neighbors. Very best wishes wherever you land.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:47 PM
 
Location: Nutmeg State
1,171 posts, read 2,319,869 times
Reputation: 628
I too am sorry about what happened to you. But without getting into any right or wrong in the situation, I just wanted to comment that sometimes emails just do not help situations. People can't invoke tone or emotion from emails, and they can be read completely wrong.

Technology has given us wonderful things, but I wonder if more face-to-face conversation might have helped lead to a different outcome in this situation.
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Old 12-10-2011, 09:35 AM
 
122 posts, read 189,134 times
Reputation: 243
Thanks, Julie and Dave.

When we first moved in, I waited more than six weeks (during which time, the decline began, due to constant sleep disruption), in the vain hopes that then neighbors -- realizing that they now HAD neighbors (where there had only been dirt, for the previous 2yrs+), and a room IN their back yard -- would begin to calm the dogs, on their own.

In that time, I looked into the situation, online, trying to learn the best way to approach the situation.

The City's website offered a template for a _letter_ that was -- IMHO -- way too harshly worded for "good neighbors."

The majority of the info I could find, though, made one thing abundantly clear: when you raise a barking complaint, regardless of its validity, or how artfully and decently you raise it, you find three types of people on the dog-owning side:

1) We had NO idea. We're so sorry. We'll take care of it.

2) Eh, whatever.

3) [expletive] and the horse you rode in on.

If you think about it ... it kind of makes sense. I crafted verrrrry kind e-mails (and ran them by numerous people, prior to sending), in the hopes of setting a very GOOD tone.

My first, and second e-mails mentioned that I'd like to have the neighbors over for dinner/a glass of wine to talk about it, but that ... I didn't want to "use that opportunity" to drop this bomb on them. Thus, the "introductory" e-mail ... giving them time to read at their leisure, and process.

Dave, your point is valid, in general. No argument, there.

But ... I've come to learn that decent people will respond decently to well-worded (in deposition, the dog-owners said, repeatedly, that there were no problems with my e-mails) communication of any kind.

You just have to work to take the tone OUT. I did.

The neighbors and the HOA both ignored multiple requests TO meet in person, using e-mail, themselves, for correspondence.

I'm just ... heartbroken that the governmental agencies were so unresponsive. I did things the "right way," and ... have paid a huge price for that.

Julie: I think you're right. We truly sought a _community_ within this town, and thought we had found one in this neighborhood.

But ... as I learned ... the relationship between distance and decibels is dramatic. An expert put the barks -- in our bedroom -- at the equivalent of a jackhammer. Literally.

Land ... may not solve everything, but ... it could help.

By the way: this yellow wall [attached pic] is OUR bedroom, in a shot taken from the dog-owners' back yard (by their real estate agent). You can see the distances involved, and ... imagine the volume.

Nothing (radio, TV, ear plugs, sleeping pills, sleeping in other rooms, etc) could damp it enough to sleep through it:

The schedules of the owners meant that the dogs were left alone for hours and hours, each day. This was a burden ... from which there was no escape.

Apparently, for one of the dogs, too.
Attached Thumbnails
Verrrrry conflicted about this town-view_of_our_house_from_millers_yard.jpg  
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:00 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
27,079 posts, read 45,168,934 times
Reputation: 31274
I too have had significant health issues due to barking neighbor dogs, coupled w/. 28 yrs of night shift employment. Folks go to work and leave their barking dogs out all day. I consider it a blessing that I now only have coyotes, and they don't hang around long (plus I can shoot them).

I have had my share of inconsiderate neighbors in many abode locations around the world. I hope you can find some piece and quiet. It is very hard to predict in a neighborhood, and police can do little about it. I have just had to move (more than once or twice...).

Basement sleeping is one of my solutions, as well as noise generation (like setting an air compressor next to your bed.) Have done that too, while in an ALASKA location with lots of party hounds all hours of the day.
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:17 PM
 
1,742 posts, read 2,829,435 times
Reputation: 1930
You're not the lone ranger there. I have a neighbor that had one barking dog that was very annoying. What do they do? Get another dog that also barks incessently.
We don't even talk to them anymore.
What sucks is we were there first. We truly hope they move.
Even our dog wants to come in when she's had enough.
RP
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:24 PM
 
10,017 posts, read 17,194,387 times
Reputation: 17094
Maybe try calling animal control, say the dogs are left unattended for long periods of time? I'm so sorry about your problems, makes us glad we're renting!

also, do you have title insurance/ Perhaps you have recourse against the surveyor that your property boundries were not drawn right? You did have a survey done, didn't you?
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:09 PM
 
10,017 posts, read 17,194,387 times
Reputation: 17094
Quote:
Originally Posted by proveick View Post
You're not the lone ranger there. I have a neighbor that had one barking dog that was very annoying. What do they do? Get another dog that also barks incessently.
We don't even talk to them anymore.
What sucks is we were there first. We truly hope they move.
Even our dog wants to come in when she's had enough.
RP

Just get a recording of a dog barking and play that all day and night, you don't have to feed, water, or clean up after it
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:05 PM
 
17,478 posts, read 11,516,984 times
Reputation: 6756
It's a law in many states and I see in Bolulder barking dogs are not allowed...............Dogs in Boulder - Laws and Ordinances also found this
Colorado Code Publishing Company - Fort Collins Municipal Code and Charter - Chapter 4: Animals and Insects

Sec. 4-94. Animal disturbance of peace and quiet prohibited.
No owner or keeper of an animal shall permit such animal to make unreasonable noise or disturb the peace and quiet of any person by barking, whining, howling, yowling, squawking or making any other noise in an excessive, continuous or untimely fashion. For purposes of this Section, unreasonable noise shall mean any sound of such level and duration as to be, or tend to be, injurious to human health or welfare, or which would unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property. No person shall be deemed guilty of a violation of this Section unless the investigation of such violation was undertaken by the City because of a citizen complaint.
(Ord. No. 160, 1986, § 1(35-20), 11-4-86; Ord. No. 60, 1995, § 7, 5-16-95; Ord. No. 073, 2004, 5-18-04)
Cross-reference—Nuisances, Ch. 20.

Sounds like these people are friends with the judge too. Good luck doesn't seem like they should get away with this. I'd call Animal Control.
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:44 PM
 
Location: Northern Colorado
715 posts, read 1,807,147 times
Reputation: 795
Quote:
Originally Posted by NBeener View Post
Our neighbors -- as it turns out -- were (they moved out in the Summer of 2011) the owners of barking dogs.
Sorry to hear of your situation and your experience in our town. I have also had barking dog issues many places I have lived, though not to the extent you have endured. Aside from the financial implications and the run-ins with members of the HOA, have things improved since the neighbors moved away and took their remaining dog? Are you able to sleep now? Is your health improving? Hopefully the new neighbors are easier to get along with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NBeener View Post
Our house -- as it turns out -- is situated on our lot in such a way that our master bedroom is ENTIRELY IN our neighbors' back yard. We didn't know this when we bought the house. It was just a floor plan, on paper.
I am unable to tell from the posted photo how the yards are positioned. Did the builder make a mistake and build the bedroom portion of your home in the back yard of the other lot? If that is the case, perhaps there is a title issue, or maybe, as mentioned above, there was a mistake on the survey.

Good luck with the issues going forward. I hope you are beginning to feel better.

Mike Weber
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