Thank You for Your Vote Against Code Changes Governing Downtown Development

Honorable Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and Distinguished Members of the Blowing Rock Council:

We appreciate your vote against proposed changes in town codes governing downtown development. We also appreciate your resolution to obtain expert professional assistance with any future evaluation of town codes. We clearly think it is vitally important to retaining town quality that council have a maximum amount of discretion on proposed developments. We think it is very important that you retain the best professional planning talent to objectively review our codes and to assist in development of a fact based town plan using information from successful plans of other communities. The Blowing Rock Civic Association has many members who have been highly successful in many fields but we found it necessary to hire two experienced town planners, three attorneys, and one of the best architects in North Carolina to provide us with expert guidance as we evaluated the proposed changes in Blowing Rock codes. We also had experts advising us who had years of planning board and town council experience here and in other towns. Many hours were spent to assure, as in the past, that our presentations to you were factual and accurate. Our intense study of town codes impressed us with the complexity and importance of this subject matter that you must deal with constantly.

Again thanks for all of your effective efforts,

George Wilcox
Blowing Rock Civic Association

Blowing Rock Downtown Development Code Changes DEFEATED !!!

All – I am pleased to report that major code changes proposed for downtown Blowing Rock development were defeated by a unanimous council vote. Council member Sue Sweeting made the motion to defeat these changes and included in it obtaining outside experts to assist in any future examination of town development codes. One of the largest groups ever to attend a council meeting spoke out overwhelmingly against the changes. Mayor Pro Tem Albert Yount told council and the large audience that he had received over one hundred emails and letters and countless personal contacts  against these changes. He said he had received more than twice the response he has received to any other issue since he has been on council. Marshall Sealey, Bill Carter and Brian Beaty all made excellent presentations in opposition to the changes. Please join me in thanking these fine gentlemen for all of their hard on this very important matter. This hearing provided an excellent forum for a very good discussion of issues involving our downtown. The consensus was clearly that downtown Blowing Rock is a uniquely wonderful place that must be preserved by carefully managing change. Many thanks to all of you for your great support.

Best regards,

 

George

Major Changes Proposed to Reduce Control of Downtown Blowing Rock Development – Public Hearing Tuesday February 12, 2019

The following MAJOR CHANGES have been proposed in the Blowing Rock Town Codes controlling downtown development:

1. ELIMINATION OF THE LIMIT ON THE DENSITY OF RESIDENTIAL UNITS ON DOWNTOWN PROPERTY. THE CURRENT DENSITY LIMIT IS 5 UNITS/ACRE.

2. AN INCREASE IN ALLOWABLE BUILDING HEIGHT FROM 30′ ABOVE THE SIDEWALK OR FINISHED GRADE AT THE PRIMARY ENTRANCE TO 35′ .

3. AN INCREASE IN THE ALLOWABLE TOTAL BUILDING HEIGHT.

4. A REDUCTION IN THE AMOUNT OF GREEN SPACE REQUIRED IN A BUILDING SETBACK AREA FROM 75% TO 40%.

THE BLOWING ROCK CIVIC ASSOCIATION WILL MAKE AN INFORMATIVE PRESENTATION ON THE PROPOSED CODE CHANGES AT THE TUESDAY, 2/12/19 PUBLIC HEARING.

Adoption of these changes will decrease approval controls that are currently available to the Town Council.

BRCA professional advisors have expressed concern that elimination of the limit on density and increasing allowable building height could stimulate construction of numerous short term rental townhouses/condos that could dominate the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. They say that this could certainly produce a major change in the character of downtown.

With use of current codes Blowing Rock has three very substantial developments under construction (Chestnut at Blowing Rock with 23 Luxury Condominiums, The Townes at Blowing Rock with 6 luxury townhouses, The Inn on Cornish, a 21 room boutique hotel ), another significant development recently approved and soon to break ground (The 1150 Main St. development with six condominiums/townhouses and two retail spaces), and another substantial development that was approved but construction has been delayed by the developer (a restaurant retail development in the old Moody’s Furniture Building at 125 Sunset Dr.). There is no shortage of substantial developments in Blowing Rock approved under the existing town codes.

A public hearing will be held at 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday February 12, 2019 at Town Hall. We urge you to attend and express your views at this hearing. We also urge you to contact Town elected officials to express your views on these proposed code changes: Mayor Charlie Sellers, csellers@tobr.us, Mayor Pro Tem Albert Yount, ayount@tobr.us, Council members:
Doug Matheson, dmatheson@tobr.us, Virginia Powell, vpowell@tobr.us, Jim Steele, jsteele@tobr.us, Sue Sweeting, ssweeting@tobr.us. YOUR COMMENTS ARE IMPORTANT AND NEEDED BY OFFICIALS.

Please see the Blowing Rock Civic Association website   WWW.BRCIVIC.COM for more details

URGENT ATTENTION – SUMMARY OF CODE CHANGES FOR DOWNTOWN BLOWING ROCK

The Blowing Rock Town Council has set a public hearing Tuesday February 12, 2019 at 6:00 P.M. at Town Hall for consideration of major changes in long standing town codes governing downtown development. these changes include:

1. Eliminating restrictions on the density of residential units on downtown properties that could enable construction of numerous condominiums without council approval or public input.

2. Increases in the permitted heights of buildings constructed in the downtown area. Enabling more and larger residential units on downtown properties.

3. A substantial reduction in the amount of green space required for downtown area developments enabling more units to be built on downtown properties.

4. Measurement of building heights from secondary streets instead of from primary streets such as Main Street and Highway 221.

5. A reduction in the amount of space required for trees and in the height of trees planted for a development.

6. A substantial reduction in set backs required for construction of buildings enabling more units to be built on downtown properties.

Community surveys of residents, property owners and taxpayers have repeatedly listed their top priority to be as spelled out in the Town’s Comprehensive Plan  “…to ensure that the Town’s unique character and quality of life are not compromised.” The question is: How will the major proposed changes, if approved, impact this top resident priority? We urge all interested citizens to attend the February 12, 2019 public hearing and to express your important opinion on these proposed code changes.  WE URGE YOU TO EMAIL THE MAYOR AND TOWN COUNCIL IF YOU CAN NOT ATTEND.

Sincerely,

William H. Carter
Vice President – Blowing Rock Civic Association

TOWN OF BLOWING ROCK’S VISION PER 2014 COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

The shared vision for the future of the Town of Blowing Rock is one of a vibrant mountain village resort community that welcomes all with its charming authenticity and unique sense of place.  As a premier destination for visitors to North Carolina’s High Country.  Blowing Rock will provide abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation, shopping, dining, lodging and entertainment in a memorable setting that cannot be duplicated elsewhere.  With a focus of maintaining its rustic authenticity, the community will continue to exemplify the western North Carolina vernacular through its architecture, its culture and by preserving and protecting the natural beauty of the mountain landscape. As a full service community, residents and visitors will continue to enjoy high-quality services and amenities that make the Town a desirable place to live or visit year-round. Moving toward this vision, the community will embrace change while remaining vigilant to ensure that the Town’s unique character and quality of life are not compromised.

PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED BR CODE CHANGES FOR DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT SET FOR FEBRUARY 12, 2019

Friends – On motion by BR Councilman Jim Steele with a second by Council Member Virginia Powell,  Council set a public hearing for 6:00 P.M. February 12, 2019 Town council meeting for Staff Recommended and Planning Board approved code changes to eliminate density limits for downtown residential units, significantly reduce required green space, significantly increase allowable building heights and authorize measurement of building heights from secondary streets instead of from major streets. Council member Sue Sweeting unsuccessfully urged Council to table these recommendations. The BRCA Development Evaluation Committee is analyzing these recommendations and plans to make a presentation at the public hearing, We urge everyone to attend this important public hearing and to comment on these proposed changes.

Thanks so much,

 

George

Serious Violations of Town Codes in Blowing Rock Discovered

Friends – The following information from Blowing Rock Civic Association attorney Jim McCleod of Johnston Allison & Hord law firm in Charlotte reveals a very serious failure by Blowing Rock town staff to adhere to the legally prescribed process for a public hearing on proposed major code changes for downtown development. When we called his attention to this flawed performance Town Manager Jim Freeman moved quickly to rectify the problems. We will continue to insist that the appropriate process be followed.

Best regards,

 

George
Blowing Rock Civic Association

MAJOR CHANGES IN BLOWING ROCK IMPACTING YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBORS

Major changes have been proposed to the Town Land Use Code to eliminate residential density requirements for the Central Business and Town Center.

 

The proposal also

1.   Concludes that short-term rental condo units should be considered the same as motel/hotel units with relaxed on-site parking requirements

2.   Significantly reduces oversight by the Planning Board and the Town Council of one of the town council’s major development control tools

3.   Relaxes building height restrictions and the method used to measure height

4.   Significantly reduces the amount of green space

5.   Does not address the demand on public parking to accommodate the increased density

6.   Does not address impact on neighborhoods adjacent to the Central Business District

7.   Does not address the risk of losing retail or restaurant sites to short-term rentals on Main Street

 

After quick approval of these proposed changes by the Planning Board there was a rush to bring the changes before council at public hearing on January 8th. BRCA objected to this quick scheduling of a public hearing for failure to follow the required process in the Town Code to call a public hearing. Town Manager Jim Freeman with the advice of the Town Attorney agreed that the prescribed process was not followed and therefore the public hearing has been postponed.  The quick public hearing did not provide adequate time for the public to evaluate and comment on the proposal while most  homeowners and taxpayers are not in town.

 

BRCA has retained a consulting architect and attorney to advise our Development Evaluation Committee on the proposed code revisions that could substantially change the character of downtown Blowing Rock. We will continue to produce information for the public on these proposed code revisions.

 

The town continues to struggle with the process for hiring a permanent Town Manager. BRCA strongly recommended to the Mayor and Council that they retain one of two professional search firms recommended by the Dean of the University of North Carolina School of Government to assist in this process. BRCA has pointed out that while we have many talented citizens in our community hiring a town manager is a highly specialized job best done with the help of those who are up to date on current effective contacts and techniques.  Councilwoman Sue Sweeting strongly supported retaining a professional search firm at a recent council meeting at which her colleagues decided to, at least initially, proceed on their own. We are hopeful that the Council will reconsider using a professional advisor to insure we have the best pool of applicants and best candidate since experienced and qualified Town Manager applicants will likely expect  that the Town use a professional search firm.

 

BRCA Board member Tim Gupton led a board process to develop our Communication and Action Plan that you can view on our website at  www.brcivic.org. The goal was to communicate to our strategic priorities and outcomes to help all stakeholders work together to insure the best  future of Blowing Rock.  The Plan highlights that  our Homeowners are the Cornerstone and the Economic Engine of Blowing Rock and that a Vibrant Village and Great Neighborhood Infrastructure are vitally important to preserving the character of our historic village while improving our economy and property tax values based on QUALITY not QUANTITY. We have met individually with the Town Manager, Mayor, Council members, Chamber Executive and TDA Director to share our plan and seek feedback.  We are encouraged by the dialogue.

Bio’s of Blowing Rock Civic Association Board December, 2018

Board of Directors of Blowing Rock Civic Association 12/2018

Chairman of the Board and President – George T. Wilcox –CEO and Owner of Wilcox & Co. financial consulting, life and health insurance and investments.  Former manager Merck & Co. Former member of the Board of Blowing Rock Hospital, former member of the Board Blowing Rock Country Club, member of BRAHM, member of BR Chamber of Commerce, member BR Methodist Church, member BR Historical Society, member Blue Ridge Conservancy, member Conservation Trust of N.C.

Vice President – William H. Carter – CEO and Owner of Carter Land Co. commercial real estate sales, development, investment and management. Longtime Blowing Rock resident and property owner and a member of various BR organizations.

Secretary/Treasurer – Betsy C. Wilcox – Manager and agent Wilcox & Co. financial consulting, life and health insurance and investments. Graduate of UNC Greensboro, N.C. Member of BRAHM, BR Chamber of Commerce, BR Methodist Church, BR Historical Society, Blue Ridge Conservancy and Conservation Trust of N.C.

Brian Beaty – Computer networking consultant and former Mayor Pro Tem of the Town of Marvin, N.C. , one of America’s fastest growing towns.

 

Richard Gambill – A Chemistry and Textiles graduate of N.C. State Richard was a manger for two major chemical companies before founding his own successful business as a manufacturer and marketer of custom cabinets. After retiring to Blowing Rock Richard has become active in a number of organizations including BRAHM, the BR Chamber of Commerce, BR Historical Society and the BR Rotary Club where he serves as Treasurer.

 

Tim C. Gupton – A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and the Harvard Executive Education Program Tim pursued a very successful career as a CPA with KPMG and then with his own firm Hughes, Pittman and Gupton, LLP. Tim was also a founder and general partner of Research Triangle Ventures and HPG Family Office, LLC. Tim also was an executive, board member, and owner of several successful startup companies in pharmaceuticals, genomics, and chemistry. He currently is a member of the board of Blue Ridge Conservancy, an officer of the Mayview Homeowners Association, and a member of BRAHM and other BR organizations.

 

Karyn K. Herterich – Karyn and her husband Dieter own SouthMarke Shopping Mall in downtown BR. Karyn also owns and manages one of SouthMarke’s outstanding shops Serves You Right. She has had extensive involvement in the BR Chamber and other BR organizations. Through her Kennedy Herterich Foundation Karyn has been a very charitable benefactor of many Blowing Rock and High Country organizations and endeavors. Karyn is the North Carolina member on the Board of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

 

Jean Kitchin – Owner , CEO and President of a company that includes three pharmacies for 16 years. Former Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of UNC Chapel Hill, Former Chair of the UNC Chapel Hill Alumni Association, recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from UNC Chapel Hill, Former Chair of the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center Board of Visitors, Former Chair of the Nash County Rocky Mount Board of Education, has hosted and produced television programs for a number of state stations and continues to host and produce programs for WHIG TV. Jean is an active member of various BR organizations.

 

Dan J. McLamb – Dan, a law graduate of UNC Chapel Hill where he also received his undergraduate degree is a founding partner in the Raleigh law firm Yates, McLamb, and Weyher, L.L.P. Dan is recognized as one of the best litigators in North Carolina. Dan has received numerous professional awards and extensive professional recognition. His clients include some of the state’s most outstanding institutions and companies. Dan, a BR homeowner, is an active member of various BR organizations.

 

Blake Pace – Blake who received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Maryland College Park is General Manager of Affordable High Country Housing, a company that buys, repairs, manages and sells homes. Blake is also a very talented musical producer and performer, having performed at a number of events for President Ronald Reagan. Blake serves as President of Ensemble Stage Company, one of the state’s most outstanding theatrical organizations. Blake has also been active in the BR Chamber and various other BR and high Country organizations.

 

Senator Tony Rand – Senator Rand, who received both undergraduate and law degrees from UNC Chapel Hill, is a practicing attorney. He served for a number of years in the N.C. Senate including eight years as Senate Majority Leader. He later served as head of the state Post-Release and Parole Commission. Senator Rand who has owned homes in BR for years is active in a number of BR organizations including serving as a board member of the BR Chamber and on the board of the BR Country Club. Senator Rand is also a member of the N.C. Lottery Commission.

 

James M. Scott – Jim had an extensive military career as an officer and an engineer. After retiring from the military Jim pursued a career as an engineer in the private sector. Jim who has been involved in Blowing Rock for years served as Chairman of the Blowing Rock Planning Board for several years. Jim also obtained a real estate license for his business activities. Jim is an active member of various BR organizations.

 

Julian R. West, Jr. – Julian, a graduate of East Carolina U., was an owner and executive of PS West Construction Co. in Statesville, N.C. After retiring from the company Julian has continued in commercial real estate development and management. Julian also serves as a director of a regional bank. Julian was a member of the Statesville Planning and Zoning Board and of the Statesville Board of Adjustments. He was also Chairman of the Statesville Chamber of Commerce.  He is a Charter member of The Greater Statesville Rotary Club and he has served on a number of other civic and church boards. Julian has a home and other investment properties in Blowing Rock. He is an active member of various BR organizations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blowing Rock Town Council Off to Good Start in Search for Town Manager

Friends – Our town council got off to an excellent start in replacing resigned town Manager Ed Evans. Ed has offered to stay on the job through the end of November. The Council today voted to hire as soon as possible an interim town manager who would assume town management responsibility promptly. A detailed presentation by Hartwell Wright of the N.C. League of Municipalities at today’s called council meeting covered the recommended process for selection of a new town manager. Wright also recommended hiring an interim manager promptly because legal responsibility for our town management resides in the town manager. Wright said on average it takes six months to choose and hire a new town manager. At this time of year he said with holidays it will probably take longer. Wright emphasized the importance of making a deliberate decision to obtain the right person as our town manager. Wright will provide the town with the name of an experienced retired town manager to consider as interim town manager. Mayor Pro Tem Albert Yount has already received the resume of an experienced candidate for the interim manager position. Council will hold a confidential meeting next Monday to consider candidates for the interim management position.

Best regards,

 

George