THE CHAMBER’S STATE OF THE TOWN MEETING AUGUST 15, 2019

BLOWING ROCK RESIDENTS HEAR THE CHAMBER’S 2019 STATE OF  THE TOWN

The Chamber hosted a State of the Town meeting on August 15th.  Speakers included Shane Fox, Town Manager, Charles Hardin, Chamber Executive Director, Amanda Lugenbell, Assistant Director of the TDA and Mayor Charlie Sellers.

If you subscribe to The Blowing Rocket, you can read an article about the meeting by Thomas Sherrill.

https://www.wataugademocrat.com/news/blowing-rock-residents-hear-the-state-of-the-town/article_062e3d11-9a9d-5d64-abc8-3d20617d7fad.html#utm_source=wataugademocrat.com&utm_campaign=%2Fnewsletters%2Fheadlines%2F%3F-dc%3D1566552611&utm_medium=email&utm_content=headline

Key points of discussion included the state of major projects, like Sunset Drive, Inn at Cornish, 1150 Main Street and Bass Lake sidewalk, adequate workforce, and parking solutions.

The members of the Chamber 2019 Leadership  Challenge Program have identified installation of playground bathrooms as their community project. The project is a priority due to school children not being able to get inside quickly due to security protocol, as well as use by community kids, visitors and recreation programs.  The project will be constructed in spring 2020, based on a fund raising program of $50,000 and $75,000 from the community.

Another issue Hardin brought up for the future is balancing business growth versus keeping Blowing Rock the same. “It’s hard to continue economic growth without destroying the charm of this place,” Hardin said.

The community will host two Candidate Forums for the Town Council.  Mayor Sellers is not opposed and four candidates are running for two open seats currently held by Albert Yount and Jim Steele.  The two additional candidates include David Harwood and Ray Pickett.  The Civic Association’s  Forum is scheduled for 6:15 PM on Thursday, October 3rd at the American Legion Building.  The Chamber’s  Forum is  scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, October 14, at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium.

Blowing Rock Civic Association News

POST – Message from your President

Friends & Neighbors

I am looking forward to leading our organization with the help of a very capable board of directors and your support.  Please visit our website at www.brcivic.org/board-of-directors/to view the recent addition of the bios for our board of directors.

The Civic Association is a strong voice for Homeowners just like the Chamber is a strong voice for Business.  We strive to independently determine the facts of key issues to assure decisions are made with all the facts on the table and to advocate for Homeowners.

Unfortunately, the community has not been unified for the first six months of 2019 and our Civic Association has been under attack as we try to advocate for Homeowners. The Public Hearing on changes to the Land Use Code for Downtown and the Public Hearing for the Rainey Lodge Project divided our community.

My #1 priority and commitment is to work with our community leaders and stakeholder organizations to bring us together to develop solutions for issues that have divided our community.

I believe it is time that we acknowledge the lack of unity on the re-development of our downtown business districts, especially Main Street, and begin a process to bring the community together.

The key question is “How do we protect our historic village while amending our Land Use Code to encourage compatible re-development?”

I have begun meeting with community leaders to build relationships to address this issue and others and continue to attend Town Council and Planning Board meetings.  If you attended our annual meeting, you met our new Town Manager, Mr. Shane Fox. He is committed to open communication and we are looking forward to his leadership.

Please watch for an update of our Communication & Action Plan to refresh and share our goals and recommended action steps.

Mark your calendar for our Candidates Forum on October 3rd at the American Legion Building.  Mayor Sellers does not have a challenger and four candidates are running for two seats on the Town Council. You will have an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates.

Homeowners pay 85% of property taxes, but most Homeowners do not vote in Blowing Rock. You vote with your pocketbook but not at the ballot box.  Elections are won usually by less than 50 votes. Many of you have a choice where you vote. Please consider changing your voter registration to Blowing Rock where YOUR VOTE COUNTS. Please evaluate your ability to register to www.ncsbe.gov/voters/registering-to-vote.

Finally, I want to hear directly from you on issues of concern. You can email me at tgupton@hpg.com or call me at 919.418.8555. We are evaluating a survey tool to solicit your opinions on key issues, so stay tuned.

Respectfully,

 

Tim Gupton

Brief Summary of Town Council Meeting August 13, 2019

The Town Manager promoted Aaron Miller to Police Chief and Matt Blackburn to Public Works Director.  Both had served in interim roles.

 

Greg Tarbutton of Chetola spoke during the citizen comment period to warn about the national and state risk of overriding local control of short term rental zoning based on an aggressive lobbying effort by Airbnb, a $38B company.  We tracked bills during the NC legislative session to override local ordinances. One limiting permitting by local government was approved and one to eliminate local control did not make it out of committee to the floor.

 

The Council denied on a vote of 4 to deny and 1 to approve an application recommended by the Planning Board to establish a Short Term Rental Overlay for 5 houses on Valley Boulevard primarily due to the risks associated with setting a precedent outside of existing Short Term Rental Districts.

 

Time limited (3 hours)  parking for the south side of Park Avenue was discussed and decision was deferred to a larger discussion about downtown parking at the Winter Retreat.  Our Communicate and Action Plan and the 2014 Comprehensive Plan both address the need to address downtown parking.

 

Our Plan recommends:

1.    Paid parking at least on Main Street

2.    Public input before decisions are made

3.    Advice from a professional parking company before decisions are made

4.    Feeder parking lots or garages to disburse parking and encourage use of AppalCART and  pedestrian traffic to Town Center

 

Most small towns contract with parking companies that implement and manage all aspects of paid parking solutions. Parking revenue goes to the Town, but parking fines are remitted to the state for education funding. Mr. Matheson reported that AppalCART use is improving.

 

Contact Tim Gupton at 919.418.8555 or tgupton@hpg.c  for further input or quest

STATE OF THE TOWN – YOU ARE INVITED

The Blowing Rock Chamber invites the entire community to  an update from the Town of Blowing Rock.  Learn what is going on in town, the latest Tourism Development initiatives and numbers, an update from the Chamber of Commerce and the Village Foundation on its current initiatives.

 

The public is invited to attend the event on Thursday August 15 at 5:30 in the Community Meeting Room at BRAHM.

 

SHORT TERM RENTAL OVERLAY DISTRICT TO BE DISCUSSED BY TOWN COUNCIL AUGUST 13, ,2019

Rezoning – 5 Houses on Valley Blvd – Request for Short-Term Rental Overlay District

We have been tracking the proposal to rezone five houses on a Valley Blvd  to permit short-term rental for a minimum of one week.

All five of the homeowners on the cul-de-sac have  requested the Short-Term Rental Overlay District.

The houses are located  on a cul-de-sac on Valley Boulevard across  from the Country Club just south of  Main Street and before Ridgeline Restaurant.  The Z signs are posted on the properties.

The Planning Board recommended approval to the Town Council who will consider the matter at a public hearing  during the monthly council meeting on August 13, 2019.

Any person wishing to comment on the above item may do so during the public hearing or by sending written comments to Hilari H. Hubner, Town Clerk, PO Box 47, Blowing Rock, NC, 28605 prior to the Council meeting.

 

TIM GUPTON ELECTED PRESIDENT OF BRCA AND 2 NEW BOARD MEMBERS ELECTED

The Blowing Rock Civic Association, a community organization with more than 300 members who are dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of life in Blowing Rock, is pleased to announce that Tim C. Gupton has been elected President and Chief Executive Officer. Gupton, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has over 40 years of experience in public accounting, 19 with KPMG Peat Marwick and 21 as an owner of HPG LLP in Raleigh. Gupton also served as an officer of four very successful startup companies in the pharmaceutical industry. Gupton has been very active in the Blowing Rock community serving on the Boards of the BRCA and the Village Foundation. He is also active in the Chamber of Commerce. George T. Wilcox, who previously served as President/CEO and Chairman of the Board of the BRCA was elected to continue as Chairman of the Board.

The BRCA is also pleased to announce the election of Dr. Barry Miller Buxton to the Board of Directors. Dr. Buxton, a native of Blowing Rock, is the retired President of Lees- McRae College. Dr. Buxton is the definitive historian of Blowing Rock having written “ A Village Tapestry” considered the best source of information on the beautiful town’s unique history. Dr. Buxton also gained national recognition for his extensive work on science and history museums around the country. Dr. Buxton has also been very active in a number of community organizations. He is a recipient of “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine” North Carolina’s highest award for exemplary community service and outstanding accomplishments.

The BRCA is also pleased to announce the election of Marshall Sealey to the Board of Directors. Sealey is an engineering graduate of North Carolina State U. who has over 45 years of construction and engineering experience in 45 states and 15 countries. Sealey among his other responsibilities managed quality control and compliance with industry standards on major projects including high rise buildings, industrial facilities and power plants. Sealey chairs the BRCA Development Evaluation Committee. Also re- elected to the BRCA Board were: Tim Gupton,  Karyn K. Herterich, Jean Kitchin, Blake Pace, Brian Beaty, Dan J. McLamb, Senator Tony Rand, James M. Scott, and Julian West.  Bill Carter, Richard Gambill, Betsy Wilcox and George Wilcox are serving unexpired terms on the BRCA Board.

 

Brief Summary of Blowing Rock Civic Association’s Annual Meeting July 25, 2019

George Wilcox, President, welcomed a full Blowing Rock Country Club ballroom of BRCA members by stating  the BRCA mission: “TO PROTECT AND IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN BLOWING ROCK BY TAKING PROACTIVE STANDS ON CIVIC AFFAIRS, INFORMING, EDUCATING AND ENGAGING RESIDENTS ON KEY TOWN ISSUES; WORKING WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT;  AND ENCOURAGING CITIZENS TO BE INVOLVED IN OUR COMMUNITY”  Our mission includes gathering and defining facts on matters impacting our town using extensive assistance of professionals, where necessary, and then communicating these facts to our community.

In attendance and recognized were Mayor Charlie Sellers, Albert Yount, Mayor Pro Tem, and Council Member Sue Sweeing.  BRCA Board members:  Bill Carter, Vice President, Betsy Wilcox, Secretary and Treasurer, Brian Beaty, Richard Gambill, Tim Gupton,  Karyn Herterich, Jean Kitchin, Dan McLamb, Blake Pace, Senator Tony Rand, Jim Scott and Julian West were recognized.

The minutes of the 2018 annual meeting were presented and approved on a motion by Julian West, seconded by Dan McLamb.

Julian West, head of the BRCA Finance Committee, reported on the Year end 2018 financials of BRCA  prepared by Blowing Rock accountant Orian Carter, EA.

Retired Judge Bob Burroughs introduced a resolution to increase the BRCA number of board members to fifteen by adding two new positions. He further nominated  Dr. Barry Buxton and Marshall Sealey to fill the new positions. The resolution (copy attached) further nominated all other board members whose terms were expiring to be elected to new terms.  Judge Burrough resolution also nominated Tim Gupton for election as President and CEO, George Wilcox as Chairman of the Board, and Betsy Wilcox Secretary/Treasurer for the next year.  BRCA member Dr. Charles Davant, III, moved that this resolution be adopted by acclamation. The motion was seconded by BRCA member Carol Dabbs. The motion was adopted unanimously by a show of hands.

Wilcox then recognized new Blowing Rock Town Manager Shane Fox who gave an excellent presentation on a number of important facts and issues impacting town government including:

1.        Blowing Rock has 67 employees and approximately 30 part time employees

2.       Blowing Rock homeowners are vitally important to the town, paying 85% of the town’s property taxes.

3.       There are 1200 to 1300 fulltime town residents with seasonal and day trippers adding up to 10,000 people additional people in town. This makes staffing very challenging to meet widely varying needs.

4.       He will remain vigilant on a move in the state legislature to end the town’s ability to regulate short term rentals in neighborhoods.

5.       He is working with AT&T and Spectrum to accomplish burying of utility lines and removal of utility poles from 321 adjacent to the Country Club and beyond, a project that has far exceeded promised completion date.

6.       He is also working with Watauga Co. to obtain fulltime ambulance emergency personnel  in Blowing Rock. This service has long been promised to the town by the county.

Fox also answered a number of member questions about town matters.

Interim Police Chief Aaron Miller then gave an excellent presentation on town police operations.

Both of these presentations and the entire meeting will be available soon on the BRCA website:

www.brcivic.com

The meeting concluded with a superb presentation by newly elected BRCA President and CEO Tim Gupton who made the following points:

1.     The BRCA represents the entire community but it provides unique representation for the town’s homeowners, fulltime and seasonal, who are not represented by any other community organization in town.

2.     He intends to emphasize an important BRCA goal to serve as …”a unifying voice” in the community that has been split by a recent push to change town codes and the approval of the Rainey Lodge development.

The BRCA will sponsor a community meeting to hear from and ask questions of town candidates for Mayor and two council seats on Thursday evening October 3, 2019 starting at 5:30 P.M. at the American Legion Building on Wallingford St. in downtown.

Dr. Charles Davant, III, made a motion that the meeting be adjourned. Julian West seconded the motion that was approved unanimously.

 

 

RESOLUTION PRESENTED TO THE ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING OF THE BLOWING ROCK CIVIC ASSOCIATION 7/25/2019 BY JUDGE BOB BURROUGHS, CHAIRMAN OF THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE:

 

RESOLVED THAT EFFECTIVE 7/25/2019 THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE BLOWING ROCK CIVIC ASSOCIATION BE COMPOSED OF FIFTEEN MEMBERS, FOUR OF WHOM WILL BE ELECTED FOR THREE YEAR TERMS, FOUR OF WHOM WILL BE ELECTED FOR TWO YEAR TERMS AND SEVEN OF WHOM WILL BE ELECTED FOR ONE YEAR TERMS.

BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED THAT THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS BE ELECTED TO THE BRCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

TIM C. GUPTON – 2 YR. TERM

KARYN K. HERTERICH – 2 YR. TERM

JEAN KITCHIN – 2 YR. TERM

BLAKE PACE – 2 YR. TERM

BRIAN BEATY – 1 YR. TERM

DR. BARRY MILLER BUXTON – 1 YR. TERM

DAN J. MCLAMB – 1 YR. TERM

SENATOR TONY RAND – 1 YR. TERM

JAMES M. SCOTT – 1 YR. TERM

MARSHALL  SEALEY – 1 YR. TERM

JULIAN WEST – 1 YR. TERM

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT THE FOLLOWING BE ELECTED TO SERVE AS OFFICERS FOR THE FOLLOWING YEAR:

GEORGE T. WILCOX – CHAIRMAN

TIM C. GUPTON – PRESIDENT AND CEO

WILLIAM H. CARTER – VICE PRESIDENT

BETSY C. WILCOX – SECRETARY/TREASURER