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One Man's Junk

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D) Reader's Digest Stash Kit: "In the bookstore business, there are millions of Reader's Digests. And you can't recycle them, because they have a plastic spine. So I took a punch press and punched out the center of the magazine so you could have a little area to stash things in."

E) Plastic Bottle Hourglass Kit: "I took two large soda bottles, the two-liter kind, and designed a lid where you could screw them together. Then you fill them with sand to make a huge hourglass. I thought it was a great way to teach kids the way an hourglass works."

F) Flame Retardant Tuxedo and White Nomex Gloves and Spats: "In order to drive a race car today, you have to have a flame-retardant suit. So I designed this tuxedo. This would be like the Baron thing again."


Bill sips some coffee.

He has a theory as to why the city is after him. In 1998, Denver voters approved a bond project earmarking $1.2 million to extend 51st Avenue through the land between Washington and Franklin streets near an old sewage-treatment plant. But after the bond was approved, Denver City Council instead voted to dead-end 51st at Downing Street. The council didn't want the road to run through a park it was building.

Bill considered the council move an act of election fraud, since voters had approved the road extension, and he said so publicly. Afterward, Denver zoning inspectors came calling. Now Bill thinks Councilwoman Deborah Ortega, who represents his district, has a vendetta against him.

Consider the evidence, he says. There's an auto-recycling yard behind his house, a construction site across the street, an auto-repair shop around the corner and a forklift operation across the alley. At every turn, there are industrial dumpsters, work trucks, warehouses, piles of supplies and dozens of old cars. His yard fits in perfectly with that backdrop, yet the city still orders him to clean it up.

"Look at where I live," Bill says. "It's an industrial zone, not Highlands Ranch. My neighbors are slaughterhouses, an old waste-treatment plant and warehouses. There are no paved streets, no curbs, no gutters and no streetlights. No one who lives out here gives a shit what I'm doing. I'm not hurting a single soul. Then they say I'm running a junkyard? I've never sold a part in my life! I'm not paranoid. I'm not some nut. I have proof. And the proof is that they took fifteen of my cars and sold them."

At city hall, officials breathe a collective sigh when they hear Bill Good's name. In the interests of diplomacy, they characterize his case as follows: Occasionally, a city resident wants to start a business or set up some other venture, perhaps even invent the perfect Colt. So he prepares elaborate plans and amasses huge inventories of stuff. But for whatever reason, the resident's idea never quite materializes. And still he continues to collect inventory. After a while, his yard resembles a Superfund site and the neighbors complain.

The city has seen this happen with inventories of everything from used tires to plastic milk jugs to, yes, Dodge Colts.

"We all have ambitions, but, unfortunately, we've never seen any vehicle that he's built," says Vincent Ferrer, a zoning inspector. "We've determined that the same vehicles on the same location have been stored there a number of years, and there's never been any movement. He's not doing anything with those vehicles other than storage. It's just a nuisance junkyard."

And the city decided this long before the 1998 bond vote. In 1996 his neighbors had complained about Bill parking his cars along the street. The city investigated, saw the Colts in his yard, and eventually filed three cases against him. Each case worked its way through Denver County Court, Denver District Court and the state Supreme Court. And at every step of the way, Bill lost.

Although Bill lives in an industrial zone, the courts determined, it's not the type of heavy-industry zone that would allow him to stockpile fifty Colts.

"Just because they live in an industrial area does not mean the owners can let their properties go to hell," says Councilwoman Ortega, who insists that Bill Good is just one of many junkyard operators that inspectors are targeting across the city. "Regardless of what he's doing there, if he's got stuff piled in the yard and it's not stacked and there are no aisles, he's got to bring it into compliance. He's got to follow the law, just like everyone else."

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Harrison Fletcher