Land Use Battle: Palisade Man Closing Wood Cutting Business

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A Palisade farmer says the county is forcing him to close his business. He says he's giving up a two year battle with mesa county.

Jim sterling has been selling firewood for six years and for two of them he has been fighting mesa county over land use.

The county says it got several complaints from neighbors.

Sterling's land is zoned for agricultural and transitional forestry.

The county investigated and said his wood cutting business should be on industrial land.

After several public hearings County Commissioners Janet Rowland and Steve Acquafresca voted to take legal action, while Craig Meis supported Sterling.

Janet Rowland says the county was just following county codes.

Sterling was charged with four misdemeanors and faced 60 thousand dollars in fines.

He says he spent 20 thousand dollars to hire a lawyer and fight in court.

Sterling says he can't afford to fight anymore. He made an agreement with the county Thursday to shut down his business.

He agreed to close his firewood business by april first and clear equipment from his property.

The county says if he shuts down his businesses, the charges will be dropped.

Sterling says industrial land is 250 thousand dollars an acre and his wood cutting business doesn't make enough money to buy that property.

He says he is working hard to sell his remaining firewood.

Commissioner Rowland says if Sterling doesn't comply, the county will continue to prosecute.

She says the county doesn't want to fine people, it just wants compliance.

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