Posted: Nov 24, 2010 5:24 PM by Jessica Roe
Updated: Nov 24, 2010 6:26 PM
Neighbors in the Upper Skyway subdivision of Colorado Springs have filed multiple complaints against their neighbor, Thomas F. Taylor, who lives on a 2.5 acre property with a pristine view of the city below.
"By my count, the place should really be condemned," said University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Economist Fred Crowley, who owns the home next door. "The exterior is an absolute disaster."
Crowley often appears in the local media forecasting the economy and speaking on the recession, however he did not use his pull with the media to draw attention to his current challenge. Instead, News First 5 discovered Crowley was the homeowner challenged to sell only once we contacted his realtor.
"The people that showed the house, same thing, obviously the junk next door, most of their comments were, 'It's an issue.' It's an issue. It's a big issue," said Dave Moore of Flying Horse Realty. Moore and the Crowleys are leaving the "for sale" sign up, however technically the house is off the market as they await the outcome of Taylor's efforts to clean his place up by December 15.
"The TV show "Hoarders" isn't just all made up," said Taylor. "There are some aspects of that, fortunately, I'm able to watch the show and say, 'Thank God that's not me', but then you look around here and say gee, what am I going to do?"
There are currently eight complaints filed against Taylor in this current case, however the City of Colorado Springs Zoning and Code Administrator Ken Lewis tells News First 5 that in recent years, there have been more than half a dozen cases against Taylor.
"It's a situation I'm looking to transition out of," said Taylor as he took us on a tour of his property. At first, he was reluctant to share such a personal challenge publicly, however he realized this is an opportunity to share his side of how the property turned into its current state.
According to his recollection, his ability to maintain such a large property on his own started after a divorce a few years ago, and went downhill after that. May years ago, his property was so pristine that he hosted an annual Christmas party, an annual fireworks viewing party, and regular tours of his koi pond, parts and pieces of which now litter his property.
"It's interesting, it's a collection as opposed to trash or rubbish," said Taylor. "I've shown I'm really good at the collecting side, but I have made several not so successful attempts at the disposing side."
His neighbor, unable to sell his house, is simply fed up. "All of us in the community are bearing the costs of this very messy environment down there," said Crowley.
Taylor says he has seen mental health experts, but other than income from Internet ventures, he is strapped for funds to do more than manually clean things up with the help of his children.
"When my diagnosis was changed from adult ADD to OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder with hoarding tendencies, I was introduced to a very prominent and successful doctor therapist," said Taylor. "But at $120 an hour, that gets pretty expensive."
Taylor says that just like a bar is a weakness to an alcoholic, going to thrift stores and finding the next great bargain is what often leads to him bringing home more and more collections.
Additionally, a large portion of the items around his property include large cylinders of air, tubing, above ground swimming pool parts and other pond type fixtures that were once used more frequently in his koi fish collection. Many years ago his ponds were so well known in Colorado Springs that he was a part of the Pikes Peak Water Garden Society (www.ppwgs.org) where you can find pictures of his ponds in a completely different state by clicking on the POND PICTURES and then THOMAS TAYLOR on the sidebar to the left side of the web site.
When Taylor appears in court in mid-December, he will face charges of "Improper Accumulation of Storage" which at most, according to Lewis, will be a $2,000 fine if he is not found in compliance with zoning laws.
"All of us in the community are bearing the costs of this very messy environment down there," said Crowley. "I want City Council to enforce that the laws be mandated, prosecuted the way it should be for this guy. City Council doesn't seem to be active about this."
While many of Taylor's neighbors live in the Upper Skyway subdivision controlled by covenants, his family purchased his property so long ago that it is in a family trust and not subject to homeowners' covenants, but by law, he must abide by zoning codes.
News First 5 will continue to follow this case and bring you updates right here at www.newsfirst5.com.