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Pit Bull Attacks, Mystery Traffic, Angry Neighbors: The Battle Over Farraday Lane

| November 14, 2011

Daniel Coletti, left, is the lease-holder of the house at the center of the conflict on Farraday Lane. His brother Dean Erwin and Erwin's fiancee, Lacie Stowel, visitors at the house, defend Coletti's tenure there. (© FlaglerLive)

Some facts are not in dispute: two dogs are dead, a 74-year-old woman was bitten by one of the dogs, a young boy is traumatized over seeing his dog mangled to death, many of the neighbors around the duplex at 4B Farraday Lane are so upset with the residents of that house that they’re planning to appear before the Palm Coast City Council Tuesday morning to press for more city control on the property, while the lease holder at the house, who had no idea the neighborhood had organized against him to that extent, says it’s time people stop making up stories about the goings on at his address.

Beyond that, the conflict involving residents of Farraday and Fawn lanes against Daniel Coletti and Patrick Morin—the lease-holder and one of the residents at the duplex—appears to involve more sound, fury, assumptions and conflicting tales than hard evidence.

What started as a conflict over unruly dogs has evolved into tensions over a house where neighbors say there’s too much suspect activity—cars coming and going for brief periods at odd hours, parties in the backyard, the smell of pot or the sight of syringes—all of which Coletti explains calmly: he’s a diabetic. Morin is mentally disabled, and another resident of the place has disabilities, too. Both are visited frequently by social workers. Yes, there’s hanging out in the backyard and a lot of cigarette smoking, but there’s never been a noise complaint issued against the place, nor any other law enforcement matter with one exception: cops served a warrant at the address for Charles Reid (who happens to be the official owner of one of the dogs at the heart of the matter) over a probation violation. Reid was not there, but he was booked into the jail on Nov. 7.

“It’s all about stereotype because I don’t look like the average Palm Coast person,” Coletti says. “In my whole 37 years of living I’ve never seen the back of a cop car, never been arrested, nothing.” Coletti has been at the Farraday Lane address two years. His brother Dean Erwin and his fiancée, Lacie Stowel, were visiting Monday afternoon. They’re familiar with the place and the situation. Stowel, who’s worked in social services, says the allegations of pot smoking at the house are absurd given the frequency of visits by various state agencies. “If there was any illegal act, any drugs, these guys wouldn’t be able to be here,” she said, referring to Morin and one other disabled individual. “It’s a whole bunch of misunderstanding that they’re getting out of this,” Erwin says.

Clinton Jacobs. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

That’s not at all how the neighbors see it, including Ray Henderson, who’ll be at the council meeting Tuesday. “We’re going to ask them if there’s something the city attorney to at least convey a letter to the owner and renter of the property to determine whether the lease can be aborted, or not extended for another year,” Henderson said of the purpose of the appearance before the council. “How come the sheriff’s department can’t at least have their detectives examine the situation more thoroughly and find out exactly what’s going on in this particular situation, because obviously there’s more to it. They’re saying it’s nothing, it’s nothing, but there is something. It’s too clear that there’s more going on there than meets the eye. We have a nice neighborhood here, on this side of the area, the kids play, they have a good time, people walk their dogs. Those two young boys next door are severely traumatized by seeing their pet killed in front of them. I mean, it doesn’t make sense to have this kind of situation going on, to let it happen, to continue to happen. There should be something that can be done to eliminate or alleviate this problem.”

Directly across the yard from Coletti’s duplex is Clinton Jacobs’s property. Jacobs is a retired train conductor from Queens, N.Y., who spent years working the New York subway. He says he knows the smell of marijuana, and it wafts over from the other yard, which is a matter of a few paces away from his. He has a screened-in pool where any of his 13 grandchildren like to splash around when they visit, but the foul language and disorders he witnesses from the duplex’s backyard, Jacobs says, are too much to take at times. “I’m looking out my window now. Junkyard out there, four bicycles, tables chairs, vacuum cleaner,” Jacobs says. And a couch. Looking at the yard in person, it’s just as Jacobs describes it, though the clutter is relative: many Palm Coast yards have yard furniture, and some of it, even when it’s fresh from the outdoor-furniture stores, can test the limits of gaudy-to-ugly. Coletti’s happens to be more worn, and yes, there are several bicycles: it’s how the residents in the house get around.

Still, Jacobs said, its gets to be too much. “They sit on the tables and talk and smoke and drink beer and wine and stuff, and they just—it’s disheartening.” He compares the scene to New York ghetto stuff.

Carolyn McLaughlin. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The neighborhood was organized by Carolyn McLaughlin, a two-time cancer survivor who lives a few houses down from the duplex. She has little patience for the stories Coletti and other there say, disbelieving them. On July 12, she was walking her dog in front of the duplex when a pit bull rushed her. People were sitting on the front porch of the house, idle. They didn’t call back the dog. McLaughlin was bitten and says the dog drew blood on both her legs and hand, and left puncture wounds on her dog, Lexie.

Coletti today said the dog wasn’t his, it had come running into the neighborhood, though a July 12 report by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office says otherwise: Coletti had locked the dog in the house after the incident. The dog’s ownership was attributed in that report to the same Charles Reid who’d later be arrested on the probation violation charge, but when animal control sought it out, it wasn’t there. But there was a dog at the house, Gucci, a black and white pit bull that had, in fact, belonged to Reid, and that Reid had given to Morin when he could not take care of it. That happened at least a year ago, according to Coletti and his brother today. Gucci was euthanized this week.

Earlier this month, on Nov. 2, Morin was walking Gucci on Farraday Lane. Enzo Castillo was walking his small dog, Brownie. Brownie and Gucci met. Brownie barked at Gucci. Gucci doesn’t like other dog. Gucci got loose from Morin and attacked Brownie, severely injuring the little dog to the point that it had to be euthanized. There’s no dispute about the incident. But it reinforced the neighbors’ anger and frustration. By then McLaughlin had already organized a meeting with the city’s code enforcement staff, along with Mayor Jon Netts, but she says the meeting went nowhere. She sent an angry letter to Netts after the second attack, claiming that Patrick (whom she called Michael in the letter) brutalized the dog and treated him in such a way as if to purposefully make him vicious.

Morin, meanwhile, who lost his father some years ago and is only now grieving for him—an example of his mental disability, Coletti says—is not understanding why Gucci was taken away from him.

“Gucci is being put down. Shouldn’t that be enough?” Stowel asks. Gucci was a family dog, too, she says. “But to evict somebody from their home? How far should it have to go?”

McLaughlin now walks the street with mace and a wooden billy club, the gift from a date in the 1960s (he was a cop), that she swings around to alleviate her carpal tunnel syndrome. Coletti had perceived it as a steel pipe, and said McLaughlin would stare at his house while swinging it—one of many apparent exaggerations and misunderstandings, on both sides, that riddle this story.

The city council now gets to hear it during the inaugural meeting of its newest members, Jason DeLorenzo and Bill McGuire.

“What am I seeking? Responsible pet ownership,” McLaughlin says. But now that there are no more dogs at the house, what else? She doesn’t believe the place is dog free. And she says the residents of the duplex never paid restitution to Saira Castillo, Enzo’s mother. “I think they should leave. They have terrorized Enzo’s mother long enough,” McLaughlin says.

The duplex's backyard that Clinton Jacobs sees from his own. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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13 Responses for “Pit Bull Attacks, Mystery Traffic, Angry Neighbors: The Battle Over Farraday Lane”

  1. Outsider says:

    And therein, I believe, is the future of Palm Coast. As the long-time, senior residents pass on or move out of frustration they will be replaced by jobless, uncaring citizens who could care less what their place or their neighbors’ look like. As long as there is pot, cigarettes, beer, vicious pitbulls to adopt, and food stamps they will be content. Why the heck do you think voter turnout is 10%? That, and this story is just more evidence, in my opinion, that Palm Coast is a dying city and why I moved years ago

    I know, I know; “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” Keep getting rid of the people that have something reasonable to say, and you’ll be left with those guys in the picture for a market. I’m sure they’re excited they’re in the newspaper.

  2. Anonymous says:

    IF somthing illegal is going on let the FCSO do its job

  3. The Truth says:

    Outsider: The voter turnout of 10% is due to the public’s dwindling confidence in our politicians. I can assure you that there are much more than 10% of our population that are seniors.

    On another note, I agree with you to a certain extent about our community. Let’s face it, the shape of Palm Coast is changing by the day. All senior communities end up changing at some point, no one lives forever. Unfortunately, Palm Coast will struggle to grow with a small job market. Jobs are limited here and while more options are popping up, it’s not enough for our population which forces many to go elsewhere.

    If you honestly think that things like what’s happened in this article doesn’t happen elsewhere, and probably much more often, then you are out of your mind. These things happen in every city in America – including upstate New York and many other locations throughout our country. It’s a part of life. You have different cultures and people all throughout this country and you will find this everywhere. I don’t blame the breed of Pitbull, I blame the owners. I know many people who own Pitbulls and they are gentle dogs who want nothing but love and to be pet just like everyone else. Rather than passing judgement on people or a particular breed of dog, perhaps you should ask yourself how you can make this a better place. Although it seems you did, you and your negative attitude moved away from Palm Coast.

  4. thats it says:

    Agreed. This is an issue for the FCSO, not the city. Those who think so, which side of your mouth do you want to speak out of today – city government, get out of my business, OR, today, get in my business because I don’t like what’s going on.

  5. Layla says:

    It IS an issue for the city. With numerous complaints cropping up everywhere just like this one, there may already be an ordinance which addresses complaints against tenants with dangerous animals. If not, there should be.

    For anyone NOT familiar with the law, you are responsible for the behavior of your animals. It can be a criminal offense if your pet is attacking others and a general menace to society. It can also be a criminal offense if you are found to be housing that animal under abusive circumstances, as in mistreating the animal.

    And while Pits can be loving animals, that usually is not the case where there are drugs present.

  6. Lacie says:

    Instead of passing judgement on a situation which many are not involed in therefor have no clue what is true try to keep harsh remarks to yourself. This is a matter of FCSO and if illegal activity were present then those matters would have been sought out and if they werent then obviously no evidence proved that assumption. As for misstreating animals, Patrick is a mentally disabled person and to misstreat anybody would be out of his vocabulary, dogs are territorial just like humans and an incident that happens between them unexpectantly shouldnt come to someone losing their home because of an issue thats out of their hands. Missunderstandings seem to evolve our country day by day along with misscommunications. There are always two sides to a story and the only one that is right would be the third story inbetween. Nobody can assume what has happened as the truth. Im sure the little boy is tramatized but arent we all? Both animals were put down that should be enough, not putting someoneon the street for nothing. Nosy neighbors is how drama gets started, instead of being cruel becomes freinds with your neighborhood not attacking them!

  7. Anonymous says:

    For anyone NOT familiar with the law, you are responsible for the behavior of your animals. It can be a criminal offense if your pet is attacking others and a general menace to society.

    I thought the piece said the “pet” was put down. So that sounds like the law did its job.

  8. Humphrey says:

    Yes, these fine individuals are just the pillar of society. Makes me proud to see our youth involved in animal care and property beautification.

  9. johnc says:

    The duplexes around the city just drive down the property values, by looking at the tenants above I am sure they do not have a college education let alone a high school diploma. The city has changed and its not for the better. Too many foreclosed homes, high population of renters. No drawing power of big paying jobs. I can not wait to get out of here, why I can not afford to live here anymore when companies do not want to pay their help a decent wage. As for the 3 clowns above they will not be here much longer, they never stay more than a year. I see it everyday the high turnover of renters. You can not survive in this county.

  10. Layla says:

    Many of these rentals are income properties owned by builders and realtors here in Palm Coast. Ironic to me that people building and selling houses will not be responsible for the rental properties they own, thus driving down property values here in Palm Coast.

    Do you think they realize they are shooting themselves, and the city, in the foot? Do you think they care?

  11. Lacie says:

    To Johnc, your rude assumptions dont do this society any good neither, to judge a book by its cover shows someones true ignorance. I am one of the individuals in that picture and however, I am not a resident there I do have a college degree and own my own home with a child on the way working a job that includes nursing. Yet I am only 20 yrs of age, how does that show for individuals my age im sure not many began there life and success as young as i have maybe even including you. So your untrue comments can be kept underwrath and not judge someone by how they look or by age, thats excatly hows wars start, stereotyping! Instead maybe our society should be asking questions and getting to know others instead of trying to answer those questions at which they do not know the answer to!

  12. John C says:

    have respect for the people that live around you…

  13. #floridaboy says:

    i dont see the problem with that backyard. i have seen a bunch in my area like that and no one causes a big stink over it.

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