Dillon Town Council calls on residents to get involved with community planning
DILLON — Officials are having to make changes to key committees and commissions to adjust for a lack of citizen participation in town.
The Dillon Town Council passed a trio of measures during its regular council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 6, to rearrange the town’s planning and zoning commission and cemetery advisory committee, both of which are suffering from a lack of community engagement from residents.
While some community members have been willing to attend virtual council meetings and speak about issues important to them over recent weeks, officials say that enthusiasm hasn’t translated into individuals stepping up to help fill important vacancies.
“We’re sort of faced with decommissioning the Planning and Zoning Commission because we don’t have enough members currently for them to serve a purpose,” Mayor Carolyn Skowyra said. “We want (community) engagement, and we’d love if people could find the time to join that commission and really be impactful for the future of this town.”
During the meeting Tuesday, the Town Council passed an emergency ordinance that temporarily allows the council to serve as the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission until the group has enough members to be effective. The Dillon Municipal Code requires the commission comprise five members, but the town currently has only two active members and isn’t able to hold any meetings until at least a third is appointed.
Council members aren’t thrilled with the idea of taking on the additional duties, but the consensus was that the move was necessary to ensure that development projects weren’t sitting on the back burner indefinitely while the commission awaits new representatives.
“It’s a necessary formality right now, because (the commission) needs to function,” council member Steven Milroy said. “Hopefully, we’ll have some people get involved, and that responsibility can go back to them. But I support it. I think we’ve got to do it.”
Community Development Coordinator Dan Burroughs said the town is hopeful the commission will have a quorum and will be able to operate independently of the town council by December.
The council also approved another emergency ordinance to amend the code to allow second-home owners in town to sit on the Planning and Zoning Commission in hopes of widening the potential applicant base and increasing membership.
The town’s Cemetery Advisory Committee is also starving for help. Dillon’s Finance Director Carri McDonnell said the committee has dwindled to two members, one of whom is difficult to get in touch with because they don’t have email or a cellphone.
But instead of trying to increase membership, the town decided to simply absorb the committee into the existing Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee to form a new group under the title of the Parks, Recreation, Arts and Cemetery Committee.
While the town has struggled to get residents involved in official capacities, community members have been organizing by themselves to try to lobby for changes in town. A recently formed group called the Dillon Neighborhood Coalition — which represents nearly 100 residents and homeowners in town — has been vocal of late in sharing concerns and recommendations for the Town Council on topics such as parking, traffic and the return of the ice castles.
Council members called on coalition members to rise to the occasion and help fill the gaps.
“The coalition currently sounds like a way to complain as a group, to argue and complain,” council member Kyle Hendricks said. “So if it is something where someone is willing to step up and actually help the town, and support the town and what we’re trying to do, that’s awesome. I totally encourage it, and I hope that someone will actually do that. Otherwise, I’m not sure the coalition is getting the right message.”
Skowyra added that taking on a more official role also could help community members more directly share their vision for the town’s future.
“We want everyone who is available in the town of Dillon to participate, so hopefully this will get some people interested, and we’ll see some applications rolling in,” Skowyra said.
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