The Dillon Town Council approved a resolution on Tuesday night to re-subdivide land currently used for parking lots, creating 11 new parcels in the town core area. The move is billed as a way to attract development to a part of town that hasn’t seen new construction in 20 years and has struggled to generate foot traffic.
A study conducted by the town in 2015 found that of the 534 parking spaces in the town core, only around 280 were occupied during peak usage. The plan approved on Tuesday converts some of that space into development-ready land and creates a right-of-way on Main Street that would widen the sidewalks and create space for parallel parking.
“We have an excess of parking that we don’t utilize every day, and this creates opportunities to use that space,” said town manager Tom Breslin. “Our parking studies show that if some of those spaces went away, we could still fit cars in town.”
The town’s plan says it can convert some of the parking lots while still maintaining more than 500 spaces in the town core area.
Since the 1990s, Dillon has lost several businesses in its core, including a movie theater, bank, bowling alley and the Post Office, which moved to Lake Dillon Drive. Since then, it has struggled to attract new projects, in part, town staff said, because potential build sites didn’t exist.
This resolution, they said, created a starting point for developers interested in building.
The move, however, was met with opposition from some property owners. While they also wanted to bring more business to the town core, they said they were concerned about impacts on their businesses and re-development plans.
Eddie O’Brien, who along with Frisco lawyer Mark Richmond owns a building on the corner of Main Street and Lake Dillon Drive, said the plan encroached on land they had intended to use after demolishing their property to build a mixed-use development.
Dillon is unique in that landowners generally only own the footprint of their structure, with the surrounding land belonging to the town. That carries some benefits for landowners, town staff say, such as free snowplowing.
In O’Brien and Richmond’s case, however, it also means the town can widen Main Street up to the edge of their building, making their re-development plans unworkable.
“It’s our property,” Breslin said on Wednesday. “They say they have a plan that requires them to use that land, but I haven’t seen it.”
At the meeting, Richmond and O’Brien said they wanted a more inclusive conversation between existing property owners and the town.
Connie Lewis, co-owner of the Meridian Institute building at 105 Village Place, echoed that sentiment.
“I would love to engage with the town council and Planning and Zoning about what would make sense,” she said. “But we haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and talk about potential impacts to property owners.”
O’Brien and Richmond were among those who argued against the plan at Planning and Zoning Commission meetings, saying the town should take a more piecemeal approach to each proposed lot.
Planning and Zoning nonetheless approved the plan at a Dec. 7 meeting, clearing the way for Tuesday’s vote.
Councilman Tim Westerberg pushed back against claims that the process wasn’t inclusive.
“With all due respect, I do not think that’s a shortcoming in our process. … We’ve heard for decades, ‘Do something with the town core.’ Doing nothing has not addressed that community need.”