An order by the 11th District Court issued July 3 rejected Chaffee County Planning Manager Jon Roorda’s interpretation of the word “parcel” in the definition of “kennel” in the Chaffee County Land Use Code. The definition, written last fall, was applied to limit Alison Brown’s use of her 40-acre property at 11600 Antelope Road for keeping fox hounds.
Despite comments from citizens decrying the proposed change in the fall of 2017, county commissioners denied a request by Marsha Boggs to lead a citizens’ work group to provide recommendations on amended kennel definitions. Instead, commissioners voted to rewrite the kennel definition to apply to housing more than seven dogs on any one parcel of land.
To comply with the new definition ‒ while pursuing legal challenges to several county actions against her ‒ Brown reduced the number of dogs housed at 11600 Antelope Road to seven, moved another seven to an adjacent 40-acre parcel she had acquired at 11555 Antelope Road, and placed her remaining hounds in foster care with friends.
In response, the county put forth an interpretation that a limit of seven dogs would apply to all dogs housed on a “parcel,” which they defined as constituting all adjacent properties owned by the same owner. In its order Tuesday, the court rejected the county’s interpretation of a “parcel,” ruling that Brown had complied with the land use code when she housed no more than seven dogs on each of her two parcels of land.
The court also rejected a motion filed by the county to intervene in a civil suit brought against Brown by neighbors Chris Vely and Laura Barton. The couple purchased a residence on adjoining property in 2016, well after Brown had begun housing fox hounds on her property.
The county had attempted to intervene in the Vely case for the purpose of stating what the word “parcel” means in its land use code.
The court also delivered a setback to plaintiffs Vely and Barton, who filed a nuisance case against Brown. The Velys allege Brown’s hounds created a nuisance under state statute and common law and also constituted a violation of the county land use code and a related county ordinance. The court order dismissed the Velys’ claims, declaring that the code and ordinance are only enforceable by the county, not by the Velys.
In a June 19 oral ruling, the court made another ruling against the Velys. When sued by the Velys for nuisance, Brown filed a counterclaim against them, claiming defamation for false and damaging statements they made against her on the internet and otherwise.
In its oral ruling, the court held that the alleged comments made by the Velys were defamatory per se. A defamatory statement is a false statement of fact that is negligently or intentionally communicated or published to a third party and that causes injury or damage to the subject of the statement. Libel and slander are different types of defamation. Libel is a written defamatory statement, and slander is an oral defamatory statement.
The case of Vely v. Brown is scheduled for a jury trial starting Monday, July 9, in District Court before Judge Murphy at the Chaffee Combine Court, 142 Crestone Ave. in Salida.