Location of the Blowing Rock Town Council January Retreat

Honorable Mayor-Elect, Mayor Pro Tem, Distinguished Council Members:

 

Congratulations to those who were elected in our election earlier this month. Thanks to all of you for your service and commitment to Blowing Rock. One of the major issues in the recent election was the concern about inadequate transparency in the operation of town government. After closely observing town operations for the past several years we certainly agree that transparency and communication with citizens on key issues need substantial improvement. We think that holding the subject retreat in Watauga County will be an important positive response to those voters who expect greater government transparency. In recent years significant council decisions have been made at retreats in Asheville. It is difficult if not impossible for Blowing Rock citizens and media to observe the council actions that take place in a remote location like Asheville. We would all agree that Blowing Rock faces significant challenges moving forward and citizen involvement and support will be critical to meeting these challenges successfully. In addition to increased transparency having the retreat closer to home would demonstrate a dedication to controlling town spending. Additionally retreat money would be spent locally during a challenging time of year for local businesses.

We would appreciate your prompt response by email to our request to hold the retreat in Watauga Co. Your responses along with this email will be posted on our website brcivic.org and distributed by email to a number of Blowing Rock citizens and the local media. Making citizens aware of the retreat location decision-making process is a good example of improved transparency.

George Wilcox
Blowing Rock Civic Association

 

 

SHOULD WE COMPLAIN? ARTICLE BY DAVID ROGERS IN THE BLOWING ROCK NEWS

 

By David Rogers. November 17, 2017. BLOWING ROCK, NC – For a government by, of, and for the people, “the people” — INDIVIDUALLY — must participate for it to be effective.  Those who fail to participate really have nothing to complain about.

Not to take anything away from the fine individuals who were recently elected (we consider all of them friends not only of us but of the Town), but the level of participation in Blowing Rock, as well as the rest of North Carolina is sorely lacking.

And it is lacking on two levels: [1] the number of candidates competing to serve the public interest(s); and [2] the number of voters actually casting ballots.

Statewide, only 16.81% of registered voters cast their ballots in the November 7th municipal elections, according to the North Carolina Board of Elections website.  The ratio of participating voters was even worse in all of Watauga County with only 11.68% (2,326 out of 19,915) of registered voters going to the polls.

Thanks largely to grassroots campaigns successfully orchestrated by challengers Charlie Sellers for Mayor and Virginia Powell for Commissioner, Blowing Rock saw a 41% participation rate this year, with 438 of the 1,243 registered voters living in the Watauga County sections of Blowing Rock marking ballots, although a write-in vote for mayor, “Waylon Watson,” was actually a non-vote because no such person resides in Blowing Rock and would have been ineligible to serve.

Why Is This Important?

Every municipality in America probably has more needs than it has cash to address those needs. So to that extent, Blowing Rock is not unique.

Our Town government and its elected policymakers, in conjunction with Town staff, develop a budget to allocate scarce resources to, presumably, the most pressing needs.

But this is where it is especially important to have participation in our systems of self-governance.  Different people have different skillsets, as well as different values and perspectives. Consequently, they might have very different assessments of which needs are more important than others.

This may well be a crass over-simplicification, but Citizen A, for example, may think that since Blowing Rock is not a Third World country, the most important thing for us to spend Town money on is to make sure that everyone has clean water and an up-to-date sewer system that manages human waste most effectively.

Citizen B, on the other hand, might place a higher priority on the services of Parks & Recreation because it contributes to increased tourism — on the assumption that having more opportunities for family fun puts more heads in beds, which in turn generates more occupancy tax and sales tax revenue to help pay for those infrastructure needs.

Citizen C has a totally different view altogether. She is a proponent of year-round economic development, so her priorities might be to expand access to high speed Internet, provide incentives for businesses to locate here, and maybe even to relocate Town services.
None of these viewpoints is necessarily more “right” than the others, nor are they “wrong.” They are simply different.

Depending on who gets elected, a Town budget allocating scarce resources to address abundant needs will reflect the viewpoints and priorities of those willing to serve in elected office. Of course, part and parcel to that thought is that the implemented policies and decisions reflect the viewpoints and priorities of those candidates receiving the most number of votes in being elected.

Town policymakers never come under heavier scrutiny than those times when they vote to raise property taxes.  Since an estimated 60+% of the Town’s budget (not counting periodic grants and other unusual contributions) comes from property taxes assessed to home, business property and lot owners within the Town limits (whether or not they are registered voters), raising property tax rates is the quickest and easiest way to secure the additional resources.

It is an important side note to this discussion that property taxes are a source of COERCED money. Once imposed, homeowners and other property owners have no choice but to pay the taxes, no matter how unfair they think them. Consequently, a Town’s decision to raise taxes should not be taken lightly nor made without considerable forethought.

This is all the more reason why PARTICIPATION in local government, either by a willingness to serve or at the very least participating in the vote that elects representatives is an important part of the democratic process.

By most accounts, the recent property tax increase in Blowing Rock was driven by the fact that past and present town councils deferred routine maintenance and infrastructure improvements because a disproportionate share of scarce resources were allocated to other needs.  Instead of addressing water, sewer and streets as imminent threats, money was instead allocated to Police, Fire, Parks & Recreation, or any number of other departments where a convincing case was made for more money.

In November 2014, Blowing Rock voters collectively said that they had had enough of kicking the can down the proverbial road when it came to town infrastructure. More than 79% voted “yes” to new water system bonds, more than 81% to sewer system bonds, more than 73% to streets and sidewalks bonds, and almost 73% for parks and recreation bonds.
Of course, bonds are debt obligations that need to be repaid over time and carry a cost of money in the form of interest.  The most convenient (and logical) way to repay those bonds was to raise property taxes and then Town Manager Scott Fogleman, along with Finance Director Nicole Norman devised a schedule for raising taxes over several years, instead of all at once.

At the same time, the sitting members of the Board of Commissioners were persuaded (by Fogleman?) that our Town employees were underpaid and that if not brought up to some level more closely equivalent to other positions around the region with similar responsibilities, we would start seeing increased turnover, or loss of valuable staff members.  To pay for the hefty salary increases in aggregate, even more of a property tax increase was approved.

The purpose of this editorial is not to pass judgment as to whether those policy decisions were right or wrong, but to instead say that we get what we vote (or don’t vote) for.

Nothing against those who chose to run for public office, but it is somewhat embarrassing for the Town to have had only two candidates for Mayor and four candidates for the three open seats on the Board of Commissioners.

When not even half of the Town’s already registered voters actually bother to participate in our participatory form of government, we collectively have no mandate to complain about the decisions being made by our elected officials.

Similarly, those who own property here but register to vote somewhere else other than Blowing Rock, perhaps in a no- or low-income tax state like Florida, are consciously making a decision to forfeit their participation in Blowing Rock government decisions. In short, they have to live with whatever decisions are made by whomever makes them, like it or not.

If there is a flaw in the system, it is that commercial property owners whose residences might lie in the Blowing Rock Fire District or in Blowing Rock School District, but not within the Town limits are not allowed to vote for any of the elected officials or ballot measures that affect them.

We often hear grumbling about increased taxes and other decisions by Town Council that are branded as ill-conceived, but so few people seem to be willing to get personally involved in Town government.

Think about it: out of every 100 people who have actually made a decision to participate in local government by registering to vote, only 41 of them actually took the time and made the effort to participate in the process. Sure, Blowing Rock’s 41 is better than the 11 out of each 100 for all of Watauga County (and actually skews the overall countywide number marginally higher), but less than half choosing to participate is still a feeble effort.

National and state elections may be higher profile and carry more “glamour,” but local and municipal elections have a more immediate and direct impact on our daily lives. Why would we NOT participate?

WANT MORE INFORMATION ON YOUR MAYOR ELECT?  GO TO BLOWINGROCKNEWS.COM FOR A PERSONAL INTERVIEW WITH DAVID AND CHARLIE SELLERS.

NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING ANNOUNCEMENT

ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING ON THE 12 TOWN HOMES BEHIND SPECKED TROUT

 

THERE WILL BE A MEEING AT TOWN HALL NOVEMBER 30, 2017 AT 5:30 PM TO DISCUSS THE PROPOSED TOWN HOMES BEHIND THE SPECKED TROUT ALONG 221 AND MORNINGSIDE DR.

 

THERE IS A CONDITIONAL ZONING REQUEST ON THIS PROPOSAL AND LAW REQUIRES THE PROPOSER TO PRESENT HIS PLANS TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD FAMILIES.

 

THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO UNDERSTAND THE PROJECT AND LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD.

 

SEE YOU NOVEMBER 30, 2017 AT TOWN HALL

 

Week of November 12, 2017 – Blowing Rock Events

 

A VERY BUSY WEEK FOR BLOWING ROCK TOWN GOVERNMENT NOVEMBER 14, 2017

 

FRIENDS  – PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING TOWN GOVERNMENT MEETINGS THIS WEEK:

 

1.       AT 5:00 P.M. THIS AFTERNOON TUESDAY 11/14 TOWN COUNCIL MEMBER SUE SWEETING WILL HOLD AN OPEN QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH ANY AND ALL CITIZENS IN THE MEETING ROOM OF THE COMMUNITY LIBRARY ON MAIN ST. IN DOWNTOWN BLOWING ROCK. SUE DESERVES ENORMOUS CREDIT FOR PROVIDING CITIZENS THEIR ONLY OPPORTUNITY FOR AN OPEN COMMUNITY SESSION WITH AN ELECTED OFFICIAL ABOUT TOWN ISSUES.

2.       THE MONTHLY TOWN COUNCIL MEETING STARTS TONIGHT AT 6:00 P.M. AT TOWN HALL . THE MAJOR ISSUES ON TONIGHT’S AGENDA ARE:

A. PRESENTATION OF A REPORT RECOMMENDING ELIMINATION OF A NUMBER OF THE LARGE TREES IN MEMORIAL PARK DUE TO PROBLEMS CAUSED BY A LACK OF PROFESSIONAL ATTENTION OVER RECENT YEARS THAT BROUGHT SUBSTANTIALLY GREATER YEAR AROUND FOOT TRAFFIC, STRUCTURES AND DECORATIVE LIGHTING TO THE PARK .

B. PRESENTATION OF A CITIZEN SURVEY ON A DECORATIVE PLAN FOR SUNSET DRIVE THAT WAS PROMPTED SEVERAL YEARS AGO BY APPALACHIAN STUDENTS WHO RECOMMENDED CREATING A “GATEWAY” TO DOWNTOWN UP SUNSET DR. MANY HOURS AND DOLLARS HAVE BEEN SPENT IN CONSIDERING THIS CONCEPT THE COST OF WHICH HAS BEEN ESTIMATED TO EXCEED               $ 1,000,000. COUNCIL MEMBER DOUG MATHESON WISELY SUGGESTED AT THE BRCA ROUNTABLE THAT WE WAIT TO SEE WHAT THE NCDOT DOES WITH LANDSCAPING AT THE INTERSECTION OF SUNSET AND VALLEY BLVD. BEFORE SPENDING TOWN MONEY ON ANY SUNSET DECORATIVE PROJECT. THERE IS UNANIMOUS AGREEMENT TO PROCEED WITH FUNDAMENTAL INFRASCTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS TO SUNSET THAT WILL BE MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE.

3.       AT 5:30 P.M. ON THURSDAY  NOVEMBER 16, 2017, A VERY IMPORTANT MEETING OF THE BLOWING ROCK PLANNING BOARD WILL BE HELD AT TOWN HALL. TWO SIGNIFICANT PROPOSED PROJECTS WILL BE PRESENTED TO THE BOARD:

A. THE INN ON CORNISH, A 21 ROOM HOTEL TO BE LOCATED BY BOONE DEVELOPERS JOHN AND JAN WINKLER ON WEST CORNISH ROAD AND MAIN ST. WILL BE PRESENTED.

B. A 12 UNIT RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT TO BE LOCATED ON PROPERTY BACK OF THE SPECKLED TROUT RESTURANT, BOUNDED BY MORNINGSIDE DR. AND HIGHWAY 221 IN DOWNTOWN WILL BE PRESENTED BY THE DEVELOPER OF THE FORMER “MOUNTAINLEAF” PROJECT. THE “MOUNTAINLEAF” PROJECT WAS TARGETED FOR THE SEVEN ACRE TRACT ON MAIN STREET AND HILL STREET ON THE TOWN SIDE OF CHETOLA. AFTER EXTENSIVE TOWN CONSIDERATION, COMMUNITY OPPOSITION AND A LAW SUIT THE DEVELOPER DROPPED THE PROJECT AND THE PROPERTY WAS SUBSEQUENTLY SOLD BY THE BANK THAT OWNED IT TO OTHERS.

 

Tree Policy Recommendations by BRCA

 

Sue – After carefully reading the two reports on the problems of the subject trees, absorbing information from various town residents and talking with one of the High Country’s best landscaping professionals the following conclusions have emerged:1. We now face a crisis that could have been avoided in one of our biggest attractions. Appropriate professional attention as recommended to the Town repeatedly over the years by BRAAC would have assured healthy, attractive park trees instead of the virtual clear cut that has been recommended.
2. The Town needs to retain an experienced professional landscape architect to immediately develop a new design for Memorial Park that will provide an attractive and functional park to meet present and future demands. This plan will include specific recommended trees and other plants. This professional will develop a design to handle drainage, foot traffic, structures and maintenance equipment operation to protect and grow trees and plants. This plan will still provide ample public use of the park. Two professionals who are qualified to produce such a design are High Country resident Ron Cutlip who did the new Blowing Rock School Playground, Ron’s telephone number is 646-765-5540 and Fred Blackley ASLA of Shelby, N.C., telephone 704-913-2222 or 704-484-1731. The recommended extensive tree cuttings will turn a major attraction into an eyesore if we do not have an excellent plan for new trees and plants.
3. We need to contract with a landscape maintenance firm that has an arborist to maintain memorial park. Continuing to attempt this job with Town staff will likely repeat the errors that have produced today’s crisis. No digging, building, trimming or cutting should be done in the park without the approval and supervision of an arborist.
4. REMOVAL OF TREES THAT ARE NOT TOTALLY DEAD SHOULD ONLY PROCEED AFTER A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT DIRECTS THE REMOVAL WHILE AT THE SAME TIME INITIATING PLANTINGS AND OTHER STEPS TO MITIGATE THE VISUAL DAMAGE. PROBLEM TREE PARTS SHOULD BE TRIMMED IMMEDIATELY UNDER SUPERVISION OF A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT.
5. Citizens should be kept closely informed of this process.
6. BRAAC should be asked to supervise this entire process with the assistance of the Town Manager and Town staff to avoid repeating today’s serious problem. Monthly reports should be submitted to the council by BRAAC and theTown staff on the progress of this project.

 

I discussed this problem today with Albert Yount who thinks it is imperative that a plan be developed and put into effect for tree replacements before other than totally dead trees are cut down.

 

Best regards,

George

November, 2017 Blowing Rock Civic Association Newsletter

THE BLOWING ROCK CIVIC ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER FOR NOVEMBER 2017

 

1.       THE BLOWING ROCK TOWN ELECTION NOVEMBER 7, 2017 RESULTED IN A DRAMATIC CHANGE OF TOWN LEADERSHIP. CHALLENGER CHARLIE SELLERS DEFEATED INCUMBENT J.B. LAWRENCE TO BECOME BLOWING ROCK MAYOR NEXT MONTH. CHALLENGER VIRGINIA POWELL WILL JOIN THE TOWN COUNCIL NEXT MONTH DEFEATING INCUMBENT RAY PICKETT FOR THAT POSITION.  INCUMBENTS SUE SWEETING AND DOUG MATHESON WERE RE-ELECTED TO THE COUNCIL. BASED ON CANDIDATES’ STATED POSITIONS IN THIS ELECTION WE EXPECT THE FOLLOWING:

A.      A SIGNIFICANTLY  GREATER  CONCERN  FOR HOMEOWNERS, FULLTIME AND SEASONAL AND A NEW ENCOURAGEMENT TO OWN A HOME IN BLOWING ROCK.

B.      MUCH GREATER GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY BRINGING MORE CITIZENS INTO THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS.

C.      CLOSER SUPERVISION OF TOWN EXPENSES TO MINIMIZE FUTURE TAX AND FEE INCREASES.

D.      BETTER PROACTIVE TOWN PLANNING THAT ENABLES LEADERSHIP TO CHART AN INTELLIGENT FUTURE COURSE FOR THE TOWN.

E.       MORE THOROUGH EXAMINATION OF PROPOSED DEVELOPMENTS TO ASURE ADHERHENCE TO TOWN CODES THAT PROTECT RESIDENTS AND THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN BLOWING ROCK.

F.       A BETTER FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTAL INFRASTRUCTURE REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE.

G.     BETTER PRESERVATION AND PROMOTION OF THE UNIQUE BEAUTY AND ENVIRONMENT OF THE TOWN.

H.      MORE USE OF EXISTING TOWN BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS IN COUNCIL DECISION MAKING.

I.        A TENDENCY TO AVOID OSTENTATIOUS SIGNAGE AND OTHER CONTRIVANCES AND TO INSTEAD EMPHASIZE THE NATURAL VILLAGE QUALITY OF BLOWING ROCK

J.        THOUGHTFUL PROMOTION OF TOURISM THAT DOES NOT DAMAGE THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR BLOWING ROCK RESIDENTS.

THIS IS ONLY A PARTIAL LIST OF EXPECTATIONS OF THE NEW MAYOR AND COUNCIL. CHARLIE         SELLERS IS A VERY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMAN WHO HAS DONE AN EXCELLENT JOB OF RENEWING AND PROMOTING THE BLOWING ROCK ATTRACTION MAKING IT AGAIN ONE OF NORTH CAROLINA’S BEST ATTRACTIONS. CHARLIE, A NATIVE OF BLOWING ROCK, IS THE GRANDSON OFBLOWING ROCK’S GREAT MAYOR AND PROMOTER GROVER ROBBINS. THE ROBBINS FAMILY IS ONE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY’S GREATEST FAMILIES FOUNDING THE BLOWING ROCK ATTRACTION, TWEETSIE, HOUND EARS RESORT, BEECH MOUNTAIN  ATTRACTIONS AND ELK RIVER RESORT. CHARLIE IS DEVOTED TO BLOWING ROCK.

VIRGINIA POWELL IS A WELL EDUCATED EXPERIENCED REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL WHO HAS A LONG AND DISTINGUISHED RECORD OF COMMUNITY SERVICE. THE BLOWING ROCK SCHOOL IS ONE OF THE BENEFICIARIES OF HER COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES. SHE IS PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN ATTRACTING MORE YOUNG FAMILIES LIKE HERS TO OUR TOWN. SHE IS DEDICATED TO MAINTAINING THE GREAT SMALL TOWN ENVIRONMENT OF OUR TOWN.

2.       REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT IS PICKING UP SHARPLY IN BLOWING ROCK

A. SUCCESSFUL BOONE DEVELOPER AND CONTRACTOR JOHN WINKLER AND HIS WIFE JAN ARE PROPOSING A 21 ROOM HOTEL ON WEST CORNISH ROAD IN BLOWING ROCK. AFTER MEETING WITH THE BRCA TO PRESENT DETAILS OF THEIR PROJECT THEY HELD A VERY WELL RECEIVED COMMUNITY MEETING TO INTRODUCE THE DEVELOPMENT. WE THINK THE PROJECT WILL BE AN EXCELLENT ONE FOR BLOWING ROCK. ROOM RATES WILL BE $ 259/NIGHT AND HIGHER. THEIR HOTEL WILL NOT HAVE A RESTAURANT OR LARGE MEETING SPACE.

B. A 12 UNIT DEVELOPMENT FOR PROPERTY BACK OF THE SPECKLED TROUT, BOUNDED BY MORNINGSIDE DR. AND HIGHWAY 221 DOWNTOWN  HAS BEEN PRESENTED TO THE TOWN PLANNING OFFICE BY THE DEVELOPER WHO DID NOT PROCEED WITH THE FORMER “MOUNTAINLEAF” DEVELOPMENT PROPOSED SEVERAL YEARS AGO FOR A VACANT SEVEN ACRE TRACT ON MAIN STREET ADJACENT TO CHETOLA. THIS NEW DEVELOPMENT WILL BE PRESENTED AT THE TOWN PLANNING BOARD MEETING THIS THURSDAY 11/16 AT 5:30 P.M. AT TOWN HALL. THE DEVELOPER IS PRESSING FOR FINAL APPROVAL BY THE COUNCIL IN JANUARY. WE WILL BE SENDING ALL DETAILS TO BRCA MEMBERS AS THEY EVOLVE. A BRCA COMMITTEE HAS ALREADY BEGUN SCRUTINY OF PROJECT PLANS AND THEIR FINDINGS WILL BE SENT TO BRCA MEMBERS AS WELL AS TO PLANNING BOARD AND COUNCIL MEMBERS.

C. WE UNDERSTAND THAT A FIVE YEAR LEASE TO BUY CONTRACT HAS BEEN SIGNED ON THE FORMER BLOWING ROCK PHARMACY PROPERTY ON SUNSET DRIVE BUT DEVELOPMENT WE ARE TOLD IS NOT EMINENT.

D. THE CHESTNUT HILL LUXURY TOWN HOUSE DEVELOPMENT CONSTRUCTION IS MOVING RAPIDLY AND THE RECEPTION HAS BEEN EXCELLENT WITH TEN RESERVATIONS FOR THE 23 UNIT PROJECT ALREADY IN HAND.

 

THESE ARE EXCITING CHANGES THAT SHOULD SERVE BLOWING ROCK WELL WITH THE MANY NEW CHALLENGES AHEAD.

 

Unofficial Preliminary Blowing Rock Election Results Indicate a New Mayor and a New Council Member

Friends – UNOFFICIAL VOTE TOTALS INDICATE THAT BLOWING ROCK HAS ELECTED A NEW MAYOR, CHARLIE SELLERS, AND A NEW MEMBER OF THE TOWN COUNCIL, VIRGINIA POWELL.

 

The following are the unofficial vote totals from town boxes in Watauga Co., early votes and absentee ballots. These numbers do not include ballots cast today in Caldwell Co. in the Blowing Rock election.

For Mayor     Charlie Sellers    298 Votes
J. B. Lawrence    227 Votes

 

For Council –  Winners will be the top three

Doug Matheson  405 Votes
Sue Sweeting     354  Votes
Virginia Powell    287  Votes
Ray Pickett         231  Votes

 

Best regards,

 

George Wilcox
Blowing Rock Civic Association

Update on Ambulance Service in Blowing Rock

Ed Evans (eevans@tobr.us)To:you Details
Hi Betsy.

 

We are supposed to have our ambulance starting this Wednesday through Friday. It will be three days a week until the first of the year, when It will be five days a week.  The hours will be 9-4 we think. This initial period will be a test. It is budgeted by theCounty beginning January 1.

 

Ed

 

Ed Evans, MPA, CZO
Town Manager
Town of Blowing Rock
1036 Main Street
Blowing Rock NC 28605
828-295-5200
eevans@tobr.us
eevans@townofblowingrocknc.org

 

 

 

 

Blowing Rock Civic Association Annual Report – November 3, 2017

ANNUAL REPORT TO THE MEMBERS OF BLOWING ROCK CIVIC ASSOCIATION 11/3/2017
The Blowing Rock Civic Association was very active in the effort to preserve and enhance our unique town during 2017. The BRCA had significant influence on a number of community issues. BRCA achieved substantial organizational success during the year establishing a permanent presence in the community. Following are some of the highlights of the BRCA’s considerable activity:
1. BRCA added 209 new members and substantial new member contributions in only four months indicating
significant interest in the current status and future of Blowing Rock.
2. BRCA financial position at year end is excellent.
3. The BRCA website was considerably enhanced and is running smoothly.
4. Regular email blasts are sent to over 400 Blowing Rock residents on town issues.
5. A social media expert was hired by BRCA to better communicate with citizens. This work is progressing
quit well.
6. BRCA was the subject of an extensive study by masters degree candidates from the Appalachian State U.
Walker Business School. A number of excellent ideas and recommendations were obtained by the association
from this study.
7. BRCA worked with NCDOT to expedite completion of Highway 321 widening through town and to improve
entrances and exits and speed control.
8. BRCA provided detailed analyses of the extraordinary recent increases in town expenses despite little
change in the town population and town property tax base. BRCA noted to officials that 83% of the
property taxes and water and sewer fees paid to Blowing Rock are from homeowners. These taxes and fees
are the principal sources of town income. BRCA emphasized to town officials that the large increases in
expenses are forcing large property tax increases that will change the town. Town personnel expenses have
more than doubled in four years.
9. BRCA appeared before the Watauga Co. Commission to urge restraint on the 13% property tax increase they
passed.
10. BRCA appeared before the B.R. Town Council to urge restraint on the 9% property tax increase and water
and sewer fee increases that they passed.
11. BRCA urged town council to focus use of bond money on the extensive infrastructure needs of the town
before using it for cosmetic projects. There were considerable infrastructure improvements by the town in
2017 but much, much more needs to be done.
12. BRCA opposed, along with the Town of Blowing Rock, N.C. Bill HB-310 Wireless Communications. This bill
that was passed and signed into law by Gov. Cooper is a “breathtaking” grab of authority from local
officials to approve “so called” small cell communications towers, antennas, equipment on property owned
or controlled by towns. The authority is given to the cell communications companies and their agents. Our
attorneys do not think that this legislation will authorize companies to locate cell towers over 60 ‘ in
height on town property without town approval. CONTINUING VIGILANCE IS REQUIRED ON THIS MATTER.
13. The Chestnut Hill town house project was presented by the developer Hunt Broyhill to BRCA . BRCA
enthusiastically endorsed this 23 luxury town house project as being the most important project of its
type in many years for Blowing Rock. The project was subsequently approved by the town and now is being
constructed on the old Blowing Rock Hospital site.
14. Developer Rob Pressley presented a proposed project on Morningside Dr. in downtown to the
BRCA. BRCA endorsed this project as positive for our town. The 16 town house unit project was rejected by
the Planning Board due to an inadvertent encroachment by the project on town right of way. The project
may return with modifications.

15. Developers John and Jan Winkler presented a proposed boutique hotel project including 21 rooms on West
Cornish Rd. to the BRCA. BRCA has enthusiastically endorsed this project, informing citizens by email
blasts about it.
16. BRCA sponsored a community meeting with residential real estate experts. This event featuring realtors
Rob Garrett and Scot MacIntosh informed the community about increasing area home sales despite the still
languishing sales and prices of many relatively expensive Blowing Rock homes. Developer Hunt Broyhill
reported on the positive response to his Chestnut Hill development. Pat Reilly, the CEO of the Carolinas
largest independent residential realty company, Allen Tate Realty, advised that the Charlotte housing
market was very active with sales and prices rising rapidly. He said the second home market lags the
economy but should be picking up shortly in Blowing Rock.
17. BRCA along with Blowing Rock News sponsored a very well attended candidates’ roundtable for town
candidates for mayor and council.
18. BRCA sent voter registration information to the community, encouraging voting in the election Tuesday
11/7/2017.
19. BRCA attended every town council meeting and several town planning board meetings to monitor town
government activities.
20. BRCA sent a public letter to the town mayor and council encouraging greater transparency on town issues.
BRCA noted a move by town officials to avoid public scrutiny on significant issues.
21. BRCA took a strong stand on town tree policy for Memorial Park and other locations when it became obvious
that certain town officials were urging extensive elimination of park trees.
22. BRCA questioned a move to force Blowing Rock citizens to purchase expensive new water meters. The town
backed off of this move to study the issue further with more than the original single supplier involved.
23. BRCA made contacts with the town for various members who had problems with the town. These contacts were
helpful to the members.
24. BRCA contacted County Commission members to place an emergency ambulance crew in Blowing Rock. This
appears to be happening but VIGILANCE IS REQUIRED.
Blowing Rock performance in 2017 was boosted substantially by an excellent year in stock market
performance and GDP growth. Performance in many ways still has not matched 2007, pre-recession levels,
particularly in town property values. 2018 will be a challenging year for the town and for its taxpayers.
Some of those challenges are:
A. Built in substantial personnel expenses and capital expenditures will require more increases in town tax
rates and water and sewer fees. The Town projects additional property tax and fee increases over the next
three years for bond payments.
B. An ambitious capital project by Watauga Co. will probably require more property tax increases.
C. Watauga Co. took over $ 100,000 of sales tax revenue from the town in 2017. A county demand for more of
town sales tax revenue is possible.
D. Despite the town’s lack of resources and infrastructure deficiencies pressure on the town for money for
purely discretionary projects with no quantified return is expected.
E. Dealing with traffic, ingress and egress problems caused by the widening of Highway 321 will be a
challenge.
F. Dealing with downtown parking problems that are going to increase because of the Bass Lake sidewalk
project will be a challenge.
G. Preserving the unique quality of Blowing Rock while encouraging positive development.

Your continuing support of BRCA is certainly appreciated. We look forward to working together in 2018 for
our unique town and area.

Sincerely,

George T. Wilcox
President