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Man digs into dream despite city's objection

February 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Tucked in quiet corner of Sierra Madre beneath a quaint cottage sits Jeff Hildreth's amazing project: a massive cavern-like hole he hopes will someday be filled with fine art and wine.

But Hildreth's dream is a nightmare for the city.

Where he sees a restaurant, the city sees a dangerous hole in the ground.

After more than a decade of construction and thousands of dollars spent, they have ordered him to stop work.

"I hope they hear this and embrace it rather than try to squash it," he said.

The city says he doesn't have the permits.

A statement released by the city points out that the Hildreths failed to show they have the permits for the project at a court hearing in January.

The judge hearing the case gave the couple 30 days to bring the work up to city code.

As for the neighbors, no one wants to get into the fight and some said they have reservations about the project.

Still, more are just tired of years of construction.

Hildreth also has his supporters in the community, including a patient wife in Taryn.

"It's a little difficult," she said. "Guys come over here and say it's the coolest and women come over here and say Taryn, we're so sorry."

But Taryn Hildreth is not sorry.

Like her husband, she wants to fight the city, because she feels it's their right and because she is convinced the musty hole in the ground could someday be a thing of beauty.

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