Seeking ‘sanctuary’ for years to come

Sedalia retreat gets approval as open space

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A place for respite, meditation and self-realization, the western Douglas County nonprofit A Sanctuary Center has made the necessary steps with the county to preserve its 13-year-old spiritual retreat in Sedalia for years to come.

Following unanimous approval by the county commissioners July 30, John and Sue Pfeiffer were happy to see their property’s zoning changed from business to open space, giving them comfort that the retreat will be protected long after they are gone.

The sanctuary, which sits on 3.93 acres near the intersection of West Wolfensberger Road and North Perry Park Road, is free and open to the public. Funded in part by a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, it is home to 1½ miles of walking trails, a labyrinth, numerous places to rest and regroup as well as a small concrete structure with a lending library filled with motivational and philosophical literature that is open from dawn to dusk daily.

“We have about 3,000 to 5,000 people a year go out there,” said John Pfeiffer, one of six board members who head up the family-run nonprofit. “They walk, read, reflect and renew. ... It is non-religious, and everyone is welcome.”

Filled with a peaceful, positive energy, the tucked-away locale has parking spaces for up to a maximum of six or seven cars, allowing all visitors to have their own quiet space on the property.

A vision of Sue Pfeiffer’s, the land previously was home to an old one-room schoolhouse from 1900 to 1958. The Pfeiffers, just the third owners since, still pay tribute to the schoolhouse through the placement of two old desks and a potbellied stove, along with an accompanying plaque on the northwest corner of the land.

“This place is just for the individual to come out here, it’s not for mass meetings or anything like that,” John Pfeiffer said. “The people have really taken ownership of this, too. We are just the gardeners.”

As for the zoning change, Pfeiffer said he “just wanted to make it a little more difficult to make it a Johnson’s Corner another 50 years down the road from now.”

The only hesitation by the commissioners in approving the change was due to a land regulation on the books that Chairwoman Jill Repella said she wants to change, which states that when a parcel is considered open space, adjacent business parcels must oblige a 60-foot setback on their own land.

Following confirmation from the county’s principal planner, Kati Rider, that if the commissioners change that regulation, all businesses will retroactively not have to abide to any setbacks, commissioners approved the change 3-0.