Dillon homeowners urge town council to block five-story condo building
August 10, 2017
A group of homeowners in Dillon has come out strongly against a proposed five-story condominium building, saying the structure would be too large for the town's staid core area and would bring down their home values by blocking mountain views.
They made their objections plain on Wednesday evening at a community meeting, where the group of mostly second homeowners and Front Range residents said they felt blindsided by the 24-unit project's approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 2.
If approved by the Dillon Town Council, Dillon Flats Condominiums would be the first new building in the core area in over 20 years. While most of the homeowners said they support trying to get some development going in that area, they said a building of that size could set a dangerous precedent and wreck Dillon's sleepy charm.
"People want to come here because we don't have buildings everywhere, we are not Vail," said Jennifer Payne, who lives in Aurora but owns a unit across the street from the proposed build site. "We don't want to stand in a corridor of buildings where you can't see anything."
The building would sit on empty town-owned lots adjacent to Colorado Mountain College on East LaBonte Street that town council replatted and offered up for development earlier this year. Of the 24 proposed units in Dillon Flats, six would be reserved for workforce housing.
Dillon's town council has been pushing hard to kick-start development downtown, which sits in an idyllic but tucked-away spot above the shores of Lake Dillon.
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Those efforts haven't always sat well with homeowners, as was the case with council's controversial approval of a new amphitheater that some said will be too big and too modern.
Construction on that project began this summer, but it's unclear whether or not the uproar this time will keep shovels out of the ground; development consultants have recommended Dillon increase the population of its core area to spur growth there, and Dillon Flats would contribute to the town's goal of adding more than 200 units.
The council members present on Wednesday night listened attentively but remained coy about their intentions. They are set to vote on the proposal during their next meeting on Aug. 15.
Unlike the amphitheater, Dillon Flats drew universal praise for design aesthetics. But the 58-foot height of the proposed structure — despite being in accordance with town code — drew unflattering comparisons to the nearby La Riva Del Lago building, which is also that tall and was described as an eyesore.
Rabbi Joel Schwartzman, who lives in Dillon bought his condo unit for its Gore Range views, delivered an impassioned plea to the council members to save his vistas of Red and Buffalo mountains.
He also appealed to their pocketbooks, arguing that the loss of the views could decrease property values by as much as $60,000 per unit.
"When our property values go down, as they surely will, will the amount you accrue as a town not be in some way impacted, maybe even offset, by the amount you'd get with the addition of this building?"
Some of the attendees of Wednesday's meeting wouldn't lose their views, but they still found a building that large hard to swallow.
"There is a larger group of people who are not directly affected by the project who just feel it is a bad idea to have four- or five-story buildings in the town core," said homeowner Robert Winstead.
In a letter he submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission opposing the project, Winstead suggested the town put taller buildings up on the hill near Highway 6, not in the low and flat area near the lakeshore.
He wasn't the only one with different ideas for spurring development on Wednesday evening. Several attendees took aim at the old buildings in the core area, which they described as neglected and shabby.
Could changes to the town code be retroactively applied to those buildings, forcing their owners to fix them up? (No, Mayor Kevin Burns answered.)
Could the town tear down the buildings and put up nicer ones in their place? (Not without condemning them, which was unlikely to be popular with property owners, answered town manager Tom Breslin.)
Why couldn't the Dillon Flats developer buy one of those buildings, tear it down and build a new one? ("Do you guys want to buy one?" quipped councilman Brad Bailey.)
Another attendee, Paul Provost, asked if the town owned the lot on the corner of Lake Dillon Drive and LaBonte Street, a most prime location for development now occupied by a squat Post Office building. (It doesn't.)
"So USPS has to go out of business before we can get that?" Provost asked.
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