Dillon and Summit County closing in on construction for workforce housing project

A rendering of a proposed workforce housing development on U.S. Forest Service land outside of Dillon.
Rendering from Norris Design

The town of Dillon and Summit County government officials will likely enter into an agreement that will bring the Dillon Ranger District Work Center workforce housing project into its pre-construction phase. Both the Dillon Town Council and Summit County Board of County Commissioners reviewed the agreement Tuesday and both voiced general support.

The commissioners looked over the agreement at their meeting Tuesday morning. Commissioners raised a few concerns with it as written, but they plan on putting the agreement to a vote at a future meeting.

The proposed design would create 177 affordable workforce housing units, 25 of which would go to the U.S. Forest Service, Dillon Town Planner Ned West said. The roughly 10-acre parcel of land is wrapping up its preliminary phase before it moves into “pre-construction,” according to the agreement.

Summit County Housing Department project manager Dan Osborn said the document outlines the county’s role in the project. It will handle the entitlements for the project, whereas the town of Dillon will commit to ensuring that the project has water and sewer for up to 177 units, he said.

Per the agreement, the town and county will continue to work together to complete outstanding tasks from the early stages of development and work towards a mutual agreement on the construction phase of the project. The town and county will continue to split the cost of development as consulting developer, Servitas LLC, is brought onto the project.

Under the agreement, Dillon will cover half the cost to bring on Servitas, at a cost of $186,550. In a summary sent to town staff, the town says remaining costs are to be determined but will likewise be split evenly with the county. Money for the project is being sourced through Housing 5A funds, according to the staff summary.

The parcel, located on U.S. Forest Service land, has been a work-in-progress for years. It was first identified as a potential location for workforce housing in 2017 at a Dillon Town Council retreat. In 2018, town staff members were hopeful the project would make significant headway by 2021. But that did not happen, and an obstacle emerged earlier this year when the U.S. Forest Service chose not to apply for annexation of the land. Officials said other options, like “ceremonial annexation,” exist, although Dillon won’t add the land into its borders.

County commissioners raised concern over the agreement’s stated plan to transfer the county’s Keystone warehouse to the Forest Service. Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said she was uncomfortable with that. County staff said they could possibly carve out part of the Dillon Ranger parcel for the Forest Service. The county would like all the Forest Service resources housed in one location.

Dillon Mayor Carolyn Skowyra asked if trailhead improvements would be included. She said improvements to the Tenderfoot Trailhead had been brought up in earlier conversations.

West said it was not within the scope of work at this time.

The county has agreed to pay for half the cost of one or two roundabouts, although West said the county believed only one roundabout on U.S. Highway 6 was necessary. The roundabout on Highway 6 would let cars into the neighborhood. A second possible roundabout would service Evergreen Road and Piney Acres Circle.

Skowyra considered the 177 units too high and could create parking concerns. West said a second proposal would create only 156 units. He said Servitas would judge the feasibility of 177 units and return to local stakeholders if it was not possible.

Town Attorney Nick Cotton said a second intergovernmental agreement would be made before any construction begins, allowing some elements to change before committing to construction.

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