DELTA COUNTY, Co. - - Being considerate to your neighbors is important, but a recent Hotchkiss man is learning this the hard way if you're not. Mr. James Hopper was found guilty of continuing to spray pesticide that made it's way to the property next door despite a court order in 2012 that barred him from doing so and now, according to the plaintiffs' attorney, Hopper is the first person in America who will serve jail time for illegal use of pesticide.
Victim Rosemary Bilchak says her husband suffers from a rare form of leukemia, and the pesticide spray being used by her neighbor, James Hopper, was causing further damage to her husbands condition. She took Hopper to court and won back in 2012, preventing Hopper from spraying within 150 feet of her property line. However, new evidence showed he was continuing to spray, and now he's going to jail.
This past Friday, Mr. James hopper was sentenced to two days in jail and is required to pay a $7500 fine for continuing to use pesticide spray intended to kill mosquitos. Bilchak and her husband, Gordan MacAlpine's attorney, believes the pesticide order was the first in the country to be issued, and furthermore, he believes this is the first time in the country someone has been jailed for violating pesticide spray rules.
"There were results on their property that showed higher amounts of pesticide than were on the entire farm of the person who was spraying it," says attorney Randall Weiner.
"We just want peaceable living on our own property - I think it really boils down to a private property issue," says Rosemary Bilchak, resident and pesticide victim.
Another argument in favor for the plaintiffs is that Delta County is considered a major center for organic growing, and they were registered as pesticide sensitive property, plus had signs indicating their property was organic.
Mr. Hopper has not yet served his sentence, but he is expected to do so in the immediate future and can choose when to serve his two days.