Dillon to proceed with roundabout study for County Road 51 housing project

Council warms to idea of town assistance due to self-annexation possibilities

This rendering shows a proposed workforce housing development on U.S. Forest Service land outside of Dillon. Dillon Town Council is moving forward with laying the necessary groundwork to get it developed, particularly a study for roundabouts in the area.
Norris Design/Courtesy photo

Though Dillon Town Council was disappointed to learn in March that U.S. Forest Service will not apply for annexation for County Road 51 housing project, the town is moving forward with laying the necessary groundwork to get it developed, particularly a study for roundabouts in the area.

The project’s goal is to develop an estimated 177 units that are a mix of studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments on an 11-acre site currently used by the Forest Service for housing, a maintenance shop and storage. The Forest Service would still like to utilize the space with 25 seasonal beds, two to five two- to three-bedroom units and an approximately 5,000-square-foot storage and maintenance building.

The added population density means two roundabouts will be installed in the area to handle traffic. One is planned for the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Lake Dillon Drive and another for Evergreen Road and Piney Acres Circle.

Recently, the town issued a request for proposals for development planning, consulting and potential site development. At a work session Tuesday, April 19, council discussed proceeding with studying the feasibility of both roundabouts as an intergovernmental agreement with the Summit County government is underway.

Town Engineer Dan Burroughs said it would cost a total $168,000 to study both roundabouts. Though there was discussion on opting just for the larger one on Lake Dillon Drive, it was decided that both would be more efficient. If the cost of analyzing the roundabout on Evergreen Road and Piney Acres Circle is split with the county, Dillon would likely pay around $116,000 total.

“It’s going to be cheaper to do it now than come back … in a year or two years and try to figure out the additional work that needs to be done,” Burroughs said. “If we get halfway through this study, we can always pull the plug if things aren’t working out … It’s just due diligence.”

Council member Jen Barchers, serving her last meeting before Dana Christiansen and Tony Scalise were sworn in later in the evening, wanted to make sure organizations like Summit Fire & EMS were involved to give input, and Burroughs said getting stakeholders together is one of the first things they’ll do.

Later in the work session, Town Council learned that once the development is finished, the residents could vote to annex themselves into Dillon proper. Town Planner Ned West said the tenants could petition for it, have an election and overrule the one vote property owner — the Forest Service — gets. Town Attorney Nick Cotton-Baez added that it lets the people decide for themselves and the vote just has to be a majority. The renters count as voters. Cotton-Baez also said that Town Council could pass a resolution of support for the annexation petition once its created.

“That makes it more palatable to me,” Barchers said. “… That changes things for me and makes it easier to keep investing our portion.”

Mayor Carolyn Skowyra, agreed.

“I think that’s great,” she said. “That seems like a much cleaner, and easier and cheaper way to do it.”

West reiterated how impactful of a workforce housing project this could be for the economy, and he mentioned that he’s seen restaurants and places like the Dillon Medical Center actively search for employees. Town Manager Nathan Johnson said that there is a sizeable business interest, with some reaching out to propose the idea of being a funding partner in exchange for dedicated units or rooms for employees.

“There’s a big need out there, and it’s only going to grow,” Johnson said.

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