A Black Forest couple's plan to store heavy machinery for their landscaping business at their home has neighbors taking sides.
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to allow Brad Dail and Julie Nicodemus-Dail to build a storage lot, less than an acre in size, on their residentially zoned home at 17975 Black Squirrel Road about two miles northeast of Vollmer and Hogden roads.
Neighbors who spoke out against the land-use proposal at the meeting expressed concern about incoming and outgoing vehicles generating noise and dust, increased traffic creating a safety risk for pedestrians on area roads and the fire hazard that comes with operating heavy machinery.
"You're considering this approval, in my opinion, for the benefit of one resident and to the detriment of many, many other neighbors that live in the area," David Ruegg, who lives just east of the property, told commissioners.
Others testified in the couple's favor, saying they maintain their property better than other residents, who illegally store heavy machinery in plain view and leave junk and other debris out in the open.
"Why are we being singled out in the neighborhood when this happens all over the place, all up and down our street?" Dail asked commissioners. During his presentation, he displayed several photos of heavy machinery on residential lots near his property.
At the request of Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr., the county's Planning and Community Development Department will be checking on the properties mentioned at the meeting for compliance with land-use code, said Project Manager Nina Ruiz. The code prohibits residents from keeping machinery weighing more than 13,000 pounds on their property without special permission from the county, Ruiz said.
Darryl Glenn, president of the Board of County Commissioners, said approving the special use for the Black Squirrel Road property is a step forward in beginning to address what appears to be a larger issue with equipment being kept illegally on residential properties in the area.
"I think the evidence is very clear that there are blatant violations that are going unchecked," Glenn sad during the meeting. "This is probably the only way that we can start establishing a baseline of what is actually harmonious in the area."
In a letter to the county's planning department, Dail and his wife wrote their lot would house a fleet of equipment, including 10 trucks, a dump truck, a road grader, a front end loader, skid loaders, box sanders, snow plows, back hoes, pull-behind trailers, storage containers and other power tools. The special-use approval will allow for up to 50 trips a day to or from the property.
The space would be at least 50 feet from the boundaries of their heavily forested roughly 14-acre property, surrounded by a 6-foot fence and lined with gravel to mitigate dust, Dail told commissioners.
Ninety people submitted letters of opposition to the special-use approval, and 37 submitted letters of support, Project Manager Ruiz said. Both groups included immediate neighbors.
Craig Lindley, who lives just south of the property, said he noticed "constant" traffic coming to and from Dail's property in the summer, even smelling diesel fuel on breezy days.
"We moved out there to have some peace and quiet, We bought this large piece of land thinking we would have no trouble," Lindley told commissioners. "If it was your house, you wouldn't be giving this permit."
Commissioners approved the special use in a 3-to-1 vote, with Gonzalez opposed and Mark Waller excused.
Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108