Homeowners Ordered to Build Fake Historic Shed

They didn’t do what they were told, so now we find homeowners ordered to turn back time.

When you defy a city ordinance, beware! The people you have offended believe they must save face and teach you a lesson. The lengths to which they will go can be frighteningly stupid.

Broken Chain

In the case of Boulder, Colorado, we have a city council that didn’t understand irony and was frustrated by recalcitrant homeowners.

According to the Boulder News, “Boulder orders homeowners to rebuild historic shed they tore down.”

The shed behind 437 Highland Ave. was built in the 1920s and may have been used to store coal and later to keep chickens.

Neighbors said it was smelly and dangerous, a hazard to children who played in the alley in Boulder’s Mapleton Hill neighborhood.

But in 2004, when the owner of the home asked for permission to remove it, the city Landmarks Board balked, saying the shed was important to the neighborhood’s historic character.

Last year, as part of a project to redo their backyard, Andy and Genevieve Horning took down the shed and built a basketball court in its place.

It’s a decision that a remorseful Andy Horning told the Boulder City Council he wished he could take back.

OK, but he can’t. By definition, once the historical shed is destroyed, it is gone. They can punish the Hornings for daring to disobey them, but the historical shed is… wait for it… history.

[See also, “Homeowners Association Forbids Military Veteran from Making Furniture in His Own Garage.”]

But the City Council ordered him to build a new fake historic shed. The Hornings are supposed to now destroy the basketball court and build a duplicate copy of the destroyed shed. According to the story,

The Hornings will have to remove the basketball court and construct a replica of the historic shed, with the same dimensions, of the same materials and in the same spot in the backyard.

“I know this is a humble building, but I think humble buildings make up an important part of our alleyscape, and I think the alleys are a wonderful part of Mapleton Hill, as important as the grandiose fronts of the buildings,” said City Councilman Tim Plass, a former member of the Landmarks Board.

Could this be more absurd and stupid? If the board wants history, then why not just wait forty years so that the basketball court can be counted as historic?

Naturally, the Hornings were busted by busybody neighbors who turned them in.

City Council members decided to call up the Landmarks Board decision because they feared letting the Hornings keep the basketball court sent the wrong message.

“You should not end up in a better place by not going through the process,” Plass said.

A series of neighbors sat at the City Council meeting for hours to tell the council members how the basketball court has become a gathering spot for children who don’t have enough places to play since Mapleton Elementary was closed.

They asked the City Council not to punish the Hornings for creating an amenity that enhanced the feeling of community on their block.

For his part, Andy Horning said he was “humiliated” to be publicly identified as a rule breaker. He said he always considered himself a good citizen who volunteered on the board of Intercambio and with the PTA.

He said a truck delivering materials clipped the shed and damaged it, and in a spur-of-the-moment decision, he asked the contractor to take the shed away.

So he has a damaged shed he doesn’t want and, in a fit of rebelliousness, can’t stand the idea of fixing it, but has it replaced instead.

I know he broke the rules but when you treat adults like perpetual children, they eventually get mad and start pushing back. If the City Council wants to freeze time, then why did they allow Mapleton Elementary to close? What gives them the right to decide whether or not people are allowed to adapt to new circumstances?

If you want to know why we are so easily allowing Federal tyranny, the answer is obvious: Because we are so docile before local tyranny. We set up systems so we can tyrannize each other.

“You should not end up in a better place by not going through the process”? There should never have been any process required.