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Dillon delays Fishhook decision

NICOLE FORMOSA
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Reid Williams
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Last we knew: Dillon officials were considering adoption of a Three Mile Plan, which outlines properties suitable for annexation within three miles of the town boundary.

The town drew criticism for including the 35-acre Fishhook Ranch in the plan because of the suggested mixed-use zoning, if annexed.

Opponents are against any commercial development in the Summit Cove area and want to maintain the buffer between Keystone and Dillon. The town maintained that the plan is just a guideline and adoption doesn’t mean annexation will necessarily occur.

The latest: After hearing from about 20 speakers at a packed meeting, council members delayed voting on the plan, saying they hadn’t had enough time to review it thoroughly.

What’s next: The council will vote on its Three Mile Plan at its June 7 meeting

DILLON ” All the letter sending, phone calls and hours spent handing out flyers paid off Tuesday evening for those who oppose Dillon possibly stretching its border out to Swan Mountain Road.

About 75 people filled the room at a regular council meeting, only three of whom indicated support for any future annexation of the 35-acre Fishhook Ranch property, which is located near the intersection of Highway 6 and Swan Mountain Road.

The land is one of four parcels outlined in the town’s Three Mile Plan, which indicates areas within three miles of the town boundary that are suitable for annexation.

If annexed, Fishhook Ranch should be considered for mixed-use zoning, or commercial development on the south side of the Snake River and residential on the north side, the plan says.

That concept has raised the hackles of Fishhook neighbors who want the property to keep its county-zoned rural designation.

“I’d like to keep buying my gallon of milk at Giff’s store (in Summit Cove),” Arapahoe Cafe owner Doug Pierce said. “I think there’s enough commercial to serve us in Summit Cove.”

Though a public hearing was not required for the council to wager a decision on the plan, Mayor Barbara Davis allowed people to speak, asking that they limit their comments to two minutes and requesting those who had previously sent e-mails, letters or made phone calls to refrain from taking the podium.

About 20 people came forth with their comments, all except for Fishhook owner Mark Thaemert, voicing opposition to the possibility of annexation of his property.

“We don’t want the light, the noise, the traffic pollution,” said Keywest Farms resident Jennifer Kermode. “We like the buffer between Keystone and Dillon.”

Summerwood resident Sandy Greenhut garnered a round of applause after suggesting the town concentrate on redeveloping its struggling downtown core rather than looking outside the town borders for development options.

One Dillon resident questioned how quickly the town was going through the annexation process and whether the town was being forthcoming with its true intentions for the property.

“The only thing that’s going to be a bang so fast is a Super Wal-Mart. Why pursue anything less than that for all the trouble you’re going to have annexing this?” Dillon resident Peter Rex asked.

Perhaps the most anticipated speaker was Theamert, who said he believed much of the opposition was strictly “for the sake of opposition.

“If this property were to be considered for annexation, I want to bring very specific users and uses (to the area),” Theamert told the crowd. “To bring users and uses, I think we need a plan, then the community and town will consider what there is to offer.”

Snake River Planning Commissioner and Keystone resident Craig Suwinski chose to make his point with a straw vote of the audience.

He asked for a show of hands of those who supported future annexation of Fishhook Ranch, drawing only three.

“Consider your neighbors as you look at this,” Suwinski said to council members.

Adding traffic to an intersection that is already dangerous also had some people concerned.

In the end, the council agreed it needed more time to review the plan and unanimously voted to postpone its decision until the June 7 meeting.

“Most of you don’t realize we received (the plan) Friday evening,” Councilmember Judee Cathrall said. “We know this less than you probably think you know it.”

Councilmember Noel Hess promised everyone he knew nothing about any special deal going on behind closed doors.

“It should be our responsibility to explore opportunities on behalf of Dillon,” Hess said. “You should at least give us that opportunity.”

The plan serves only as a guideline and if adopted, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Fishhook Ranch would ever be annexed.

“Even if we voted on this Three Mile Plan tonight, all we’re doing is proving we’re looking at this area,” Councilmember Mike Smith said.

The Fishhook Ranch parcel was given a rural designation by Snake River Planning Commissioners while recently completing their master plan update.

Currently, the land is zoned A-1 in the county, meaning one house is allowed per every 20 acres.

A group of citizens opposed to annexation spent the past week, fervently handing out flyers at the Dillon Post Office and sending letters to Dillon businesses, attempting to drum up attendance for Tuesday’s meeting.

Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or at nformosa@summitdaily.com


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