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Article published Apr 12, 2009
Neighbors say 'Barney' the purple house lowers property values
By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
DUNGENESS -- Lavender light fills Andi Taylor's living room each morning -- not from a nearby field of herbs, but from a building she's come to call Barney.

Next door to Taylor is a large lavender garage -- topped with a violet apartment -- built late last year and painted in January. It reminds the neighbors of the eponymous purple dinosaur in public television's "Barney and Friends," Taylor said.

She lives just east of the structure at 135 W. Anderson Road, so she said the morning sun, reflected off of its exterior, gives her white interior walls a purple glow.

From her front windows she has a view of the building's lavender, fuchsia-trimmed face.

Other residents of West Anderson Road say Taylor is the one in the neighborhood most affected by the new hues.

But two dozen who live nearby have signed a petition requesting relief from their property taxes from Clallam County Assessor Pam Rushton.

Their homes' values have been undercut by the tall building in their midst, the cover letter asserts.

"I call it the purple people-eater," quipped Brianna Juel, a neighbor who circulated the petition.

Rushton said last week that she's never seen a request for tax relief based on bright colors, and added that she knows of at least two other purple houses, on Mount Pleasant Road near Port Angeles.

If the assessor does find that West Anderson Road property values have dipped or even plummeted, she said it'll be difficult to determine whether the purple place or the economic downturn did it.

The owners of the garage-apartment are Blaine and Cindy Zechenelly of San Jose, Calif. Cindy, reached by telephone last week, declined to comment at first on her future neighbors' complaints.

When asked whether she chose the colors because of Sequim's status as the trademarked lavender capital of North America, Cindy said that was partly the reason.

Her primary inspiration, she added, comes from the Painted Ladies, tricolor Victorian houses on Alamo Square in San Francisco.

She added that she has yet to see the finished exterior.

In a later e-mail, Cindy wrote that she and her husband hope to have a home built next to the garage in about 2011.

"We had them over for dinner last June," Taylor said. "They said they were going to build a country Victorian. So we knew it was going to be big."

That was long before the painting began.

In December, when a contractor told Taylor he was going to turn the place purple, she thought he was joking.

It's not just the color that perturbs Brian Juel, Brianna's father and a resident of nearby Nelson Road since 1993.

"This has become the focal point of the community," Juel said.

'Polluted views'

The garage, which has space for three cars on one side and a recreational vehicle on the other, "has polluted our views, taking our eyes off the true natural beauty" of the landscape and Strait of Juan de Fuca, he wrote in the letter to the county assessor.

"I know people have every right to build whatever they want," Juel said in an interview. "But it affects others."

He plans to plant a weeping willow tree between his home and the new building.

"I need to somehow mask that house out of my view."

Yet another neighbor, Kathy Petree, said the purple peaks block her view of the Olympic Mountains. She sees the structure as a bruised thumb amid the low-profile, neutral-toned homes and green fields along rural Anderson Road.

Rushton said that view obstruction may change property value, but affected homeowners must petition the assessor individually.

"They have until July 1," to submit written requests property tax relief, she added. The soonest the Anderson neighbors would see their taxes reduced would be 2010.

The Zechenellys could move up here the following year.

"It's going be a very tense situation for them," said Taylor, who has been in touch with the couple.

"Cindy has said she doesn't want this to affect our friendship ... she knows I don't like it."

Yet Taylor said that the shades of purple inside and outside her house have brought about something positive: The neighbors have met one another, via the petition for tax relief. And Petree and Brianna Juel met for the first time on Friday when a reporter came to talk with them.

"If everyone on this street painted their houses to match," joked Taylor, "we could charge admission," for a new kind of lavender tour.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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