Where have all of Fatty’s flowers gone?
BRECKENRIDGE – John Daisy began planting flowers 10 years ago to impress a woman with his gardening prowess. He didn’t get the woman, but he fell in love with the flowers.Now, every year, Daisy, who owns Fatty’s Pizzeria on Ridge Street, erects his temporary greenhouse, orders flowers, hardens them off in the greenhouse and, later, hangs them in every nook and cranny outside his popular eatery.At least a half-dozen artists have given Daisy paintings of his building. Colorado Mountain College art students have set up their easels to paint the colors. Photographers have risked life and limb backing up in the road to get pictures of the flower-bedecked restaurant.Not this year.Daisy assembled his greenhouse May 7 but didn’t apply for a building permit until the following Monday. Town planners denied the application because Daisy erected the 576-square-foot greenhouse on his two parking spots – and parking spaces can only be used for parking – in the alley behind the restaurant. He also doesn’t have enough density on his lot to accommodate the structure, town planner Chris Neubecker said.”It’s very upsetting to me,” Daisy said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m not hurting anyone with anything I do. I don’t know why it’s so upsetting to them.”Neubecker said rules are rules.”Obviously, John does a great job every year with his flowers, and the town appreciates that,” he said. “But we have certain rules in place we have to follow to be consistent, and in this case it doesn’t work. He knew he needed to have a permit before he did this, and he went ahead and built it anyway. That’s not the way we do things here.”In previous years, Daisy nurtured his flowers in a permanent greenhouse on the back deck of the restaurant.Each April, Daisy orders about $5,000 worth of flats, pots and baskets filled with bright red geraniums, dainty white illisum, cheerful pansies, pink petunias, lobelias and orange nasturtiums. He keeps them – and flowers for the Hearthstone, South Ridge Seafood Grill, Ridge St. Bar and Grill (now Mrs. E & Me), Bubba’s Bones and Angel’s Hollow restaurants – in the greenhouse until the last frost, then displays them outside.Daisy cancelled his flower orders and dismantled the greenhouse Thursday. He now plans to put flowers under a tarp and plant them in boxes in June.”We know they have their rules, but I think it’s very disheartening,” said Debbie Walker, a co-owner of Angel’s Hollow. “It would have been nice for the community.”Puttering around in his greenhouse is therapeutic for Daisy – and he believes the flowers attract visitors and subsequently help bolster town sales tax revenue.”This is a type of marketing for businesses on Ridge Street,” he said. “If the town doesn’t look good, are people going to come?”The town’s grounds crews nurture planters and hanging baskets along Main Street, but on Ridge Street, it’s mostly left up to individual merchants.”We’re worried about sales tax dollars – what’s wrong with a greenhouse for six weeks?” Daisy said. “You walk up and down Main Street and see how many open storefronts there are. Yet, you try to do something, and they just shut it down.”The issue makes so little sense to Daisy, he ordered five copies of the book, “The Death of Common Sense,” and on Friday delivered them to each of the town’s planners.Next year, Daisy vows, he’ll have his greenhouse back.”If there’s any time I get to express some creativity, it’s with these flowers,” he said. “It’s better than therapy.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or email@example.com.
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