Towering piles of tires -- estimated at 4,500 -- have been removed from a North Delta residence, but not before several municipal court appearances by Melissa Antillon, who owns a used tire business with her husband Tito.
The proceedings culminated with a trial before Judge Brad Kolman, sitting in for Judge John Baier.
The City of Delta had filed three charges against the Antillons related to the keeping of junk, the creation of a health or safety hazard, and non-compliance with R1A zoning, which is designed for quiet, low-density single family homes.
Judge Kolman found Antillon guilty on two of the three charges. During the trial, Melissa Antillon convinced the judge the tires are not junk, but business inventory they were forced to store temporarily at their home.
Judge Kolman found that the tires constituted a nuisance, based on testimony from neighbors who said they feared the May rains were pooling in the tires and drawing mosquitoes and rodents. He also convicted Antillon of the zoning violation, but said he wanted to give her credit for her efforts to get rid of the tires. Antillon insisted all the tires were gone the day of the trial, July 22, so Judge Kolman set sentencing for a week later, to give her time to submit photos as proof.
A week later, the photos showed all the tires had been moved from North Delta, but code enforcement officer Roger Christian said it's not the first time the city has had issues with the Antillons. "We need to make sure this doesn't happen again," he said, speaking to possible fines.
"This is not habitual," said Antillon. During the trial, she raised concern about an abandoned house in the neighborhood that's attracting squatters. She feels she's being discriminated against, while the city ignores issues with the house. Christian assured both Antillon and the judge that the property owner has been contacted and the police notified. "I'm confident it will be resolved," he said.
Returning to the matter at hand, Judge Kolman thoughtfully considered the two violations, which he said he considers of equal importance. He ultimately fined Antillon $200 on each charge, but suspended $150 on each, for a total fine of $100. The fine and $15 in court costs must be paid within 30 days. Antillon will also be on unsupervised probation for a year.
Two fatal accidents occurred in Delta County within a two-day span last week.
Casey Gillenwater, 25, of Delta was killed the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 13, in a single-vehicle rollover on Highway 133 outside of Hotchkiss.