Home-based business regulations were the topic of discussion in a special town-hall meeting hosted by the Douglas County commissioners on Nov. 16.
Commissioners took citizen questions and concerns during the hour-long meeting. County staff attended the meeting to answer questions and clarify how the codes are implemented and enforced.
Commissioner George Teal, who had a home-based business in the past, said he has concerns about how current county codes are written because they directly impact some residents who are not causing problems.
In the case of Jenna Bacon and her husband, the county has given them a letter stating they are in violation of home-based business codes. Bacon said her husband manages a grass seed business.
The couple moved from Castle Rock to just outside of Parker in unincorporated Douglas County. Bacon said she did not think the family business would cause concerns since her husband does the actual work at other people’s homes and only stores the business trailer in the garage at night.
However, a neighbor complained, leading the county to investigate and give the couple a violation notice.
Other neighbors spoke out on behalf of the Bacon family, saying they are not impacting the neighborhood and their livelihood should not be hurt because of one person complaining.
When one resident asked how the county can enforce such codes, Zoning Compliance Manager Michael Cairy said officials only investigate when they get a complaint.
A Highlands Ranch resident said she was forced to close down her yoga business in 2019 after her neighbor complained. The resident said the current process is like the “Wild West,” with no clear way to apply and follow any rules.
Teal said the regulations need to be reviewed to find a balance to help business owners who are working from home.
Assistant Director of Planning Steve Koster said the county regulations have been established to follow zoning codes. In reviewing home-based business prospects, Koster said the county looks at what the business is, property zoning, whether it will impact neighbors and traffic and whether it will affect the exterior look of the home.
Commissioner Lora Thomas said the codes can be reviewed but reminded the public that a balance is needed because there have been cases where a home-based business is a nuisance.
Using an example from Highlands Ranch, Thomas said a home-based businessman was a contractor with a lot of trucks and equipment being parked in the street and causing an accident and other problems for neighbors.
Koster and Cairy said county staff will try to work with businesses to meet code or give them time to relocate a business if required.
After the back-and-forth discussion, Commissioner Abe Laydon said this is the beginning of the conversation and not the end, noting that more community meetings and discussions will be held.
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