Those who weren’t shocked still seemed surprised by county commissioners unanimously granting a land use variance to Sheryl and Dana Glasgow on Thursday. After all, Sheryl Glasgow’s encounters with commissioners have not been positive, and often ended in lawsuits.
Land use decisions are rarely simple, but commissioner Peggy Littleton said this one could only turn out one way.
“Based on the evidence presented to us, we made the only decision we could,” said Littleton, who represents Glasgow’s district. “The Planning Commission had approved the variance and I knew we didn’t have any reason legally not to approve this.”
Commission chairwoman Amy Lathen said the decision was still difficult, though she cited precedent for granting the variance.
The decision concluded a 15-year battle between the Glasgows and many of their neighbors.
“I feel like the weight of the world has been taken off my shoulders,” Sheryl Glasgow said.
The variance allows the Glasgows to have a contractor’s equipment yard for their landscape business, Turf Master Industries, Inc., on the site of their five-acre residence in Saddleback Estates, an unincorporated area of the county surrounded by Colorado Springs neighborhoods near the northwest intersection of Powers Boulevard and Barnes Road.
“How we make decisions on land use involves three criteria,” Lathen said. “One is protection of private property rights. Two is state statutes as they relate to land use and three is local land use development policy.”
Former commissioner Duncan Bremer, special counsel to El Paso County on this case, told commissioners near the end of Thursday’s four-hour hearing that evidence seemed to show the Glasgows’ property would be “compatible with the neighborhood.”
County attorney Amy Folsom had recused herself from the proceedings. The county sued the Glasgows in 2001 for running their landscaping and snow removal business from their residential property. District Court Judge David Gilbert ruled the business was not permitted in that zone. The state Court of Appeals agreed in 2005, and the Glasgows were allowed to keep only a wholesale nursery at the home.
When the Glasgows didn’t comply, the county sued for contempt and won. Sheryl Glasgow was fined $10,500 and received a judicial scolding from District Judge David Prince, who said her “conduct was offensive to the authority and dignity of the court.”
Sheryl Glasgow said little at Thursday’s proceedings. Ten individuals spoke against granting the variance, while others argued for the Glasgows.
“There have been a lot of changes in that area the last several years,” said Sallie Clark. a commissioner for eight years. “We’ve been through some rocky road on this. It does meet our land use criteria.”
Glasgow said she expected to win the decision, but was surprised it was unanimous. She figured Clark and Dennis Hisey, a commissioner for eight years, would vote against her.
This wasn’t a precedent-setting decision, Lathen said, noting the county has other residences and businesses located together.
The Glasgows will consolidate their business. The nursery, which has 500 trees and 1,000 plants, Sheryl Glasgow said, has been at the residence while trucks, trailers, mowers, chemical sprayers, snowplows and other items for the landscaping and snow removal business have been at an office on Ford Street.
The El Paso County Planning Commission approved the variance with eight conditions and two notations attached. Commissioners insisted on the same compliance and Sheryl Glasgow gave “100 percent” assurance that she will.
Neighborhood opponents told commissioners she has a history of non-compliance and expect that to continue. Glasgow said Friday the requirements won’t be difficult to meet and vowed to comply.