Dillon town council candidates share views on short-term rental regulations, town core initiative, Uptown 240
Dillon Town Council candidates John Woods and Kevin Stout addressed short-term rentals, Uptown 240 and the plan to improve Dillon’s town core before a crowd of roughly 20 Dillon residents Wednesday afternoon at Dillon Town Hall.
The two candidates will vie for the open Dillon Town Council seat left by Steve Milroy in the spring. Voters can make their decision in person on Sept. 13 at Dillon Town Hall between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or by absentee ballot. Absentee ballot forms must be submitted by Sept. 9 at the latest.
Both Woods and Stout expressed a desire for Dillon voters to head to the polls.
“Council (members) will take us more seriously if we have 800 votes instead of 50 votes,” Woods said.
The candidates laid out their platforms in August. Stout is a 10-year local who said he wants to listen to locals and achieve balance between residents, businesses, the town and tourists.
Woods became a full time resident in 2020 but “always wanted to be that local in the mountains.” Woods said he’s an “idea guy” who — win or lose – wants to get his thoughts out to the people and bring them to fruition.
The pair answered direct questions from moderator Phil Lindeman of Krystal 93 Wednesday night and voters, a couple of whom asked about the candidates’ stances on short-term rentals and the recent ballot measures.
“I don’t like taxing property,” Stout said. “I don’t like taxing you (and) not me.”
Stout hadn’t made his mind up on the tax — whether the benefits outweigh the cost on property owners. He recognized that short-term rentals can strain local resources and said a solution is needed.
Woods said he does not want the town to control if a homeowner is allowed to short-term rent. In other words, he opposed a cap or moratorium on short-term rentals.
“To me, they are absolutely no different from a hotel,” Stout said. If a property isn’t someone’s primary residence, it should be taxed like a hotel and treated like a business. He sees it as a business operating in a residential area, which he has problems with.
That said, Stout does not think the town should tell an owner they cannot short-term rent, however, and he voiced opposition to creating a cap or moratorium on rental licenses. So long as the owner abides by their homeowners association and are respectful of their neighbors, he said he believes they should be able to short-term rent.
Both candidates were asked about Uptown 240. Both responded by saying, in hindsight, the project never should’ve been approved.
“They were not qualified,” Stout said.
“I think everybody knows that that place is finished,” Woods said. “The question is when.”
Uptown 240 was not the only concern addressed. Both candidates were asked what they thought Dillon’s greatest problems were.
“I think we’re making great progress,” Stout said.
To Stout, the town is continuing to develop well with new hotels and medical centers, but any time the town does anything, it needs to hear from its residents. That’s his greatest concern.
“I will listen. I will make myself available,” he said. “I won’t always agree with you, but I will agree to listen.”
After talking with residents, Woods said his chief concern was the town core and restoring its “luster.” The core should have improved housing density and include more attractions for tourists and their full wallets, Woods said. The more Dillon can market itself to the more than 500,000 drivers passing by Interstate 70 each month the better, he said.
Candidates were asked how well they can work in the communication-laden council environment. Stout brought up his negotiations with Town Council as part of the Dillon Resident Coalition. He said he led residents in a meeting with council to not put a parking area in the middle of his neighborhood.
“It was my approach that said we can sit down and we can solve this in a meeting,” he said.
“I think you push. You stand up for what you believe. And then you move on,” Stout said.
A councilor should continue to fight for old and tired issues, Stout said.
Woods highlighted his experience in business and high-level negotiations before he launched into his idea of collaborating with Vail Resorts to house Dillon’s summertime marina and amphitheater employees . The same, he said, could be sought for the amphitheater’s security team, who currently drive from Grand Junction.
“I do want to make sure, though, that we don’t follow blindly,” Stout said.
While the town can work with other local partners, Stout said he has the impression Dillon sometimes parodies other towns without fully considering the consequences of its actions at home.
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