A David vs. Goliath Battle in Cherry Creek

January 2 2006, 1:08 PM

Valentina Petty is a single mother and Russian immigrant who operates the hot dog stand at the corner of Second Ave. and Fillmore St. in Fillmore Plaza. She has been there for seven years, serving up what one D.U. engineering professor calls the "best hot dogs in town." Her license was renewed for another year in September. Her stand is also right outside the Wolfgang Xpress eatery. They want her to move across the street. She says she'll lose her customers. They say there is an ordinance that requires street vendors to be more than 200 feet from a business selling competitive products. The City Attorney's office says there's an exception for the requirement in the code when a pushcart is "compatible with the public interest."

Kerry Buckey, an assistant city attorney, said there is an exception to the 200-foot requirement. The manager of public works can determine whether the pushcart is "compatible with the public interest" and allow it to remain at a certain location, according to the city's Municipal Code.

Meet Marc Schtul, president and chief executive officer of the Cherry Creek North Business Improvement District. He wrote to the Public Works permit operations supervisor last summer asking for resolution of the problem, saying that he had received a letter from attorneys for Wolfgang Xpress "demanding" that Petty's cart be forced to move. Schtul says he's trying to mediate the matter between Petty and Wolfgang's Xpress. Petty says she can't afford lawyers or a fight. Is Schtul the right man for the job when he makes a statement like this?

Schtul said his allegiance is to his constituents -- business owners who pay $30 to $40 on average per square foot -- not Petty, who pays the city about $300 a year for her license.

A mediator should be impartial. A City Attorney says the matter is under review by the Department of Public Works which will make a decision. So it's Wolfgang Xpress' attorneys and the Cherry Creek North Business Improvement District on one side with lawyer-less Ms. Petty on the other. Ms. Petty needs a legal advocate for her side. Maybe one of the Cherry Creek lawyers who enjoy her hot dogs will step up to the plate and help the damsel in distress.