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
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
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
19. BRCA attended every town council meeting and several town planning board meetings to monitor town
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
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.
George T. Wilcox