Dillon Valley residents oppose new development, worry it will add to density, speed problems
DILLON — Neighbors of Dillon Valley Vistas are growing increasingly concerned that the new workforce-housing development will create traffic and density problems in an already packed neighborhood.
Summit County held a groundbreaking ceremony for the 12-unit development on Monday, June, 22, and crews have already started on constructing the foundation for the homes. However, neighboring Dillon Valley homeowners are worried the homes will create more traffic at an already busy intersection.
The development is located on the intersection of Straight Creek Drive and Deer Path Road, which is sandwiched between two stop signs. Homeowners who live near the intersection say cars often roll through the stop signs or go very fast.
“It’s located on the busiest road where cars go really fast in Dillon Valley,” said Emily Mulica, who owns a home on Deer Path Road.
Mulica’s biggest concern is for the safety of her elementary-aged kids. Dillon Valley doesn’t have any sidewalks or paths. Since she first moved to her home in 2011, more families have come to the neighborhood.
“Now there’s four to five families just on my street with elementary-aged kids,” she said. “It’s hard. Most people slow down when they see a pedestrian or a kid, but there are plenty who don’t.”
This isn’t the first time concerns about traffic and safety in Dillon Valley have come up.
In 2017, Mulica and her neighbors created a group called “Walkable Dillon Valley.” According to the Facebook group’s description, it aimed to implement traffic calming measures to slow cars down; connect the neighborhood to existing bike paths and townships; and turn the space that is now being used for Dillon Valley Vistas into a community lot.
Housing Director Jason Dietz said the county is aware of neighborhood concerns. When the county was in the beginning phases of the project it held a meeting for the community at Dillon Valley Elementary, where some neighbors expressed their desire for a community gathering space instead of more housing.
“There was a wide spectrum of support and dislike to the development in the conceptual stage,” Dietz said. “Even during all the public meetings there was a group that did not want to see housing there.”
Mulica isn’t the only neighbor disappointed in the outcome of the development. Many neighbors commented on a Summit County government Facebook post about the groundbreaking.
“As a homeowner on Straight Creek Drive I am very disappointed that more traffic will be added to our streets with no safe sidewalks,” Erica Currey commented. “School bus stops are along Straight Creek Drive and I am sure that the residents that will move in there will also be adding to the amount of traffic traveling straight creek to the school.”
Other neighbors said they would have liked to see the plot of land, which was formerly home to Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, be used as a community space.
“It’s incredibly unfortunate that the county chose this option instead of open space/park/playground that would benefit current residents,” Julie Andrews commented. “Now we will have an increase in traffic and still have no safe option for our children to ride their bikes in most of Dillon Valley.”
Dietz said the county was unable to use the plot for a community space like a park because it does not have a parks department or budget for one. The county also doesn’t manage sidewalks, another request from the Dillon Valley neighborhood.
“(The county doesn’t have) the funding mechanism or structure in place to maintain parks or a sidewalk,” he said. “It could be done through a local improvement district, but the county, just stand alone as itself, does not have that, where other people’s tax dollars will be paying for someone else’s park or open space.”
Mulica said the neighborhood has considered applying for a local improvement district but the funds aren’t there.
“Frankly, we don’t really have the resources to launch an effort like that,” she said.
Mulica said the county has often ignored her concerns about safety in the neighborhood.
“In the past when we have requested help getting cars to slow down or increasing the safety for pedestrians and cyclists and kids, they have routinely said ‘we’re not in the business of neighborhoods, we’re a rural county government,’” she said. “With this development they have now entered the business of building neighborhoods.”
Dietz said the county is having group meetings with Dillon Valley residents to hear their concerns. The county also brought on Kate Berg, a private planning consultant, to work with the community.
“(She will) work with the community and hear their needs and try to find solutions of how we can improve walkability, neighborhood attachment, with the county resources that are available,” he said.
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