By Lauren DiSpirito
DENVER (CBS4) – People in a Congress Park neighborhood say they will fight city inspectors’ efforts to remove sunflowers from a public right-of-way.
Jett Mosher, who lives on the 2500 block of East 12th Avenue, says he and his stepfather, who owns the property, received notice last Thursday that the plants he’s maintained for more than a decade are overgrown and more than 30 inches tall, which violates city codes for what’s allowed in a public right-of-way. He says he was told they must be cut down.
The sunflower plants line the sidewalk at the corner of 12th Avenue and Elizabeth Street. After thinning the plants, and being allowed to maintain them for years, Mosher says he was shocked to hear from inspectors about them.
“I couldn’t believe that somebody actually complained about something that brings such joy and happiness to the neighborhood,” Mosher said. “Nobody’s ever had a problem with this for all the years that they’ve been here.”
Mosher says the flowers have served as a “conversation piece,” bringing people together and providing a place to pose for prom and wedding photographs. As word of the city’s notice spread, messages scribbled in chalk in support of the sunflowers turned up on the sidewalk next to Mosher’s home.
“Save the sunflowers,” one message read.
The sunflowers have become home to bees and birds, like the North American finch, according to Mosher.
“It’s more than just sunflowers,” he said. “It creates harmony.”
Ruth Wilhelm hopes the flowers can stay. She and other neighborhood residents say they, too, were surprised by the call to cut them down.
“It unifies the neighborhood, actually, we all love them and talk about them,” Wilhelm said.
Denver City Councilman Wayne New, who represents Mosher’s neighborhood, said Monday he is trying to organize a meeting between city inspectors and residents who would like to save the sunflowers. While he says the plants interfere with line-of-sight rules and pose a safety hazard, he hopes a compromise can be reached that allows Mosher to keep as many of the plants as possible.
“We have to protect the safety of cars here,” New said. “But the beauty of the flowers is important.”