Legislative Alert – Attack on Neighborhoods by our Legislature

ALERT

September 16, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

 

The North Carolina League of Municipalities shared this alert.

A harmful provision damaging the ability of cities and towns to regulate short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, was included in the North Carolina House of Representatives’ proposed state budget, and the provision is now being negotiated as part of a final budget deal.

If you are concerned about this latest backdoor attempt to undermine local regulation of short-term rentals, we urge you to take action now by asking your state legislators to keep this provision out of the final budget agreement.

Resort towns like Blowing Rock are especially at risk.  We enjoy a balanced approach based on our ordinance that allows Short Term Rental Units in downtown and restrictions on Short Term Rental Units in our neighborhoods.

Please contact any NC House or Senate member throughout the state whom you know. Our two local delegation members are in the minority on this issue, but you can also share with each of them.

 

This provision damages the ability of municipalities to place reasonable regulations on short-term rentals that protect existing home values, community character and public safety. The short-term rental business has proliferated in recent years, and we are now seeing these properties being utilized as continuous, year-round, short-term rentals that lower neighboring property values.

If you agree that it is important to keep your ability to enact regulations that address noise, parking and other factors that can negatively impact public safety and quality of life, then now is the time to act. If you fear this provision would affect your municipality, please reach out to your legislators in the Senate and the House to let them know of your opposition. It is important to make your voice heard as the General Assembly decides what will stay in and what will come out of the final budget.

 

Regards,

Tim Gupton

President

Rainey Lodge Status

August 26, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Some of you have been asking about the status of the Rainey Lodge Hotel project behind Speckle Trout which was approved by the Town Council just over two years ago in June 2019.

There are four conditions that must be met by the developer to start construction which means start “land-disturbing activity”.

I contacted the Planning Department who gave us a quick response to our questions. The developer has provided all final plans related to grading, storm water management, and site plan.

Construction cannot commence until erosion control measures have been installed and the developer has paid a performance bond to cover 125% of the cost of storm water drainage facilities, water and sewer utilities , sidewalks, full-site stabilization, proposed landscaping, and restoration of excavated areas. The Town’s engineer must approve the amount of the performance bond.

The deadline is November 15th which is the two year vesting rights plus an extension of time related to COVID allowed by NC legislation. After November 15th, the developer can apply for a six month extension that has to be approved by the Town Council.

So, we should know relatively soon if the project will proceed.

Regards,

Tim

Tim Gupton
President

24/7 Transport Ambulance Proposal

August 18, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Beech Mountain is dealing with the same 24/7 transport ambulance service that we are in Blowing Rock.

This article in the Watauga Democrat describes the compromise funding solution that the taxpayers of Beech Mountain will have to fund. See the following link. As we have discussed

https://www.wataugademocrat.com/news/council-discusses-use-of-emergency-response-unit-for-out-of-town-calls/article_1c9d19b1-1f4f-5677-b6b2-00abb4c18dd8.html

As we have discussed in many posts and at our community ambulance meeting on July 22nd, the Town Council is faced with having to choose between continuing a 40 year stand-off with the County under the “Double Taxation” principle or agreeing to a compromise subsidy to secure 24/7 transport ambulance service.

After careful deliberation, our Board of Trustees recommends that the Town Council negotiate a compromise subsidy with the County containing the following key conditions:
Station a 24/7 ambulance and team at Fire & Rescue building on Valley Boulevard
Substantially limit convalescence service by this team
Share funding 50/50 between the Town and the Blowing Rock Fire District
Include a plan to phase out the subsidy over a reasonable time frame
While a subsidy seems unfair given our County taxes, prioritizing the health and safety of our residents and visitors should the goal.

Hopefully our advocacy over the last two years to secure a 24/7 transport ambulance service has helped prompt our Town and County elected officials to reach a solution.

Regards,

Tim Gupton

Invitation to attend Tourism Progress Report by Roger Brooks

July 10, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Tourism Development Authority invites you to a “Progress Report” by Roger Brooks to share his preliminary observations and recommendations for the Sustainable Tourism Plan.

This meeting is a very important next step for the community to learn and ask questions.

The public meeting will be held on Thursday morning at 10 am in the Town Hall Council Chambers. The session will be recorded and available on the Town website.

The first meeting you attended was our first impressions and initial ideas.

This meeting will showcase the list of ideas and a few recommendations based on two days of meetings with local interest groups and from the online questionnaire. The presentation will last about an hour with half an hour for Q&A afterwards.

If have not done so already, please fill out the quick survey that is circulating around town and available at this link.

bit.ly/LifeInBlowingRock

If you have any additional comments or questions that you believe I can explore for you, please share by REPLYING to this email.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President
Blowing Rock Civic Association

Leadership Interview – Issues Resulting from Rising Numbers of Tourists

Town Government Leader Interviews
Issues resulting from the Rising Numbers of Tourists

May 24, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The BRCA is pleased to present discussions with Blowing Rock neighbors who are serving our community in town government leadership. We hope you are enjoying our interview series.

Please join us on our BRCA website to become better acquainted with these dedicated folks and their views on major issues impacting our historic village.

BRCA Board member and Blowing Rock resident Jean Kitchin, an experienced community leader and broadcaster, talks with Town Manager Shane Fox, Council Members David Harwood and Virginia Powell, and Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers. We wish to thank these leaders who agreed to an interview to share their views about our future.

We hope you enjoyed the first four videos to gain a personal insight into the views of our leaders. We want to thank Jean Kitchin her expertise and comfortable interview style.

This week we are rolling out the last of five videos that discusses issues resulting from the rising numbers of tourists. All five videos are posted on our website. See link below.
Introduction of Blowing Rock Town Officials
Discussion of Positive Aspects of Blowing Rock
Discussion of Major Needs in Blowing Rock
Discussion of the Importance of Seasonal Residents
Discussion of the Issues resulting from the Rising Numbers of Tourists

You can view the video interviews on our website at
https://www.brcivic.org/videos

The videos were produced and funded by the Blowing Rock Civic Association with a matching grant from the Mariam & Robert Hayes Charitable Trust.

Green Hill Traffic Study – Share your Observations

May 19, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Our Town Manager, Shane Fox, announced that the Green Hill Traffic Study Survey and Interactive Input Map has been activated.

If you live in a Green Hill neighborhood or drive Green Hill Road, you should take advantage of this opportunity to share your observations. The Town Council recognized and authorized this study to gather input from citizens who have expressed concerns about safety on Green Hill Road.

The Survey and Map will be active for the next 30 days to gather input from our citizens. Please copy and paste these links to your browser.

Public Survey: https://arcg.is/1n8Lm1

Interactive Map: https://rka-inc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=c4d9c57e08bb4252b3afd2b042cf3116

The survey is open and will close midnight on June 16.

The interactive map will always load, but we have restricted the time for when results can be entered.

Currently, if you go to the interactive map, you can see the base map and project study area, but you cannot add any points. The interactive map will allow comments to be placed during the same time frame as the survey.

Ramey Kemp will be onsite the end of June and first of July to gather data in the field.

If you wish to share your observations with Blowing Rock Civic Association, please email us at info@brcvic.org.

Town Government Leader Interviews – Importance of Seasonal Residents

May 17, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The BRCA is pleased to present discussions with Blowing Rock neighbors who are serving our community in town government leadership.

Please join us on our BRCA website to become better acquainted with these dedicated folks and their views on major issues impacting our historic village.

BRCA Board member and Blowing Rock resident Jean Kitchin, an experienced community leader and broadcaster, talks with Town Manager Shane Fox, Council Members David Harwood and Virginia Powell, and Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers. We wish to thank these leaders who agreed to an interview to share their views about our future.

We hope you enjoyed the first three videos to learn about the Town’s governing structure and their personal stories about why our elected leaders chose to run for office, the positive aspects of Blowing Rock and the major needs of Blowing Rock.

This week we are rolling out the fourth of five videos talking about the The Importance of Seasonal Residents The final interview will be released next week:

Introduction of Blowing Rock Town Officials
Discussion of Positive Aspects of Blowing Rock
Discussion of Major Needs in Blowing Rock
Discussion of the Importance of Seasonal Residents
Discussion of the Issues resulting from the Rising Numbers of Tourists

You can view the video interviews on our website at
https://www.brcivic.org/videos

The videos were produced and funded by the Blowing Rock Civic Association with a matching grant from the Mariam & Robert Hayes Charitable Trust.

Updated Gateway Plat

May 9, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,
We updated the site picture to show exactly the proposal to preserve 2 acres in green and to show the new configuration of the subdivision with 8 lots on Green Hill.

Our neighbors are purchasing Lot 9 and Mr. Winkler is putting a conservation easement on portions of Lots 8, 6 & 5.

As described in our post on May 7th, this project represents the best of Blowing Rock showing the dedication and generosity of residents to protect greenspace in Blowing Rock, co-operation between Mr. Winkler as the developer and residents and hopefully the support of our Town Council.

Tim Gupton
President

Green Park Gateway

May 7, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners and Town Council,

Our neighbors in Green Park, Green Hill and throughout the Village have raised $282,000 to preserve the south gateway on Highway 321 into Blowing Rock. They were able to work out a deal with Mr. Winkler who had approval for a larger subdivision on the tract. This alternative preserves greenspace, the natural entrance to the Village and reduces the size of the subdivision and traffic on Green Hill. This property is also in the watershed for the Yadkin River so it is not only offers a visual benefit, but an environmental benefit.

This project benefits our entire community and is consistent with our strategic priorities:
Protect our Vibrant Village
Protect our Residential Economy
Protect our Neighborhoods
Our board of directors believes this project represents the goals in our Advocacy Plan and more importantly the generosity and importance of neighborhoods and homeowners to the Village.

The Town Council must accept the gift of the land and agree to preserve the tract as a permanent greenspace. Please encourage the Town Council to support this proposal at their upcoming meeting on May 11th. You can email the council members using their emails below.

Mayor Charlie Sellers – csellers@tobr.us

Mayor Pro-Tem Sue Sweeting – ssweeting@tobr.us

Councilman Albert Yount – ayount@tobr.us

Councilman Doug Matheson – dmatheson@tobr.us

Councilman David Harwood – dharwood@tobr.us

Councilwoman Virginia Powell – vpowell@tobr.us

We want to express our thanks to the donors who are committed to making a perpetual investment in our Village.

Sincerely,

Tim Gupton
President

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Pine Street Townhouse Project – Density, Parking & Height?

May 6, 2021

Dear Mayor Sellers, Council Members Harwood, Matheson, Powell, Sweeting & Yount,

In advance of the next council meeting, we wanted to share the key points I plan to raise about your approval of the Pine Street project. My goal in sending now is to give you some time to evaluate the points in advance of the meeting.

I will be speaking as the president of the Civic Association. As you know, the Civic Association does not endorse or oppose projects. Our goal is to make sure all of the facts are on the table for you and the community to make an informed decision.

This project like the projects presented by developers over the last few years, points out the need to update our land use code for the downtown business districts to meet current market realities and to reconcile the code with the Comprehensive Plan. While each project technically stands alone, each sets precedents for the next project until the code is updated.

We hope that you recognize this need and will approve a Downtown Vision process similar to the Valley Boulevard Vision process to achieve these goals and to clean-up certain ordinances as needed. We should not delay.

Following are the project variances for you to consider:

1. Density – 16-12.2
a. The developer has asked for a variance to build 8 STR townhouses on .39 of an acre which is the equivalent of 20 units per acre.
b. The code allows 5 units per acre and the Comprehensive Plan suggests at least 8 per acre.
c. A variance of this magnitude is a significant deviation from any expectation set by the code or Comprehensive Plan.
d. This variance is in the staff report and was approved by the Planning Board.
2. Parking – 16-20-3- 1.310 & 1.330
a. STR units place an especially high demand on parking. The code requires on-site parking to match the use and to avoid placing additional burdens on public parking spaces.
b. The developer stated that the number of units proposed were based on the limitations of the parking calculation based on 6 units with 1 bedroom and 2 units with 2 bedrooms.
c. The developer’s calculation hinges on the number of bedrooms plus 1 space for each set of 4 units – 1.5 spaces for 1 bedroom, 2 spaces for 2 bedrooms and 2.5 spaces for 3 bedrooms.
d. To achieve this assertion, the floorplans should be evaluated since the only difference in the floorplans is to move a closet in the second bedroom to the adjacent front bedroom and labeling the room as an office. All units in substance have at least two rooms and baths that will be used as bedrooms and 6 of the units have an additional bonus room that could be used as a bedroom and a screened in porch.
e. The actual number of spaces required would be 18 spaces for 8 units with 2 bedrooms or 21 spaces for 3 bedrooms. Ignoring the common sense use of these rooms is a “Form over Substance” argument by the developer. To solve this problem the density should be reduce to insure that the occupants of the STR units will not place an additional burden on the scare public parking spaces.
f. Please review the floorplans in the attached Planning Board package. This variance is not in the staff report, was not discussed in the Planning Board meeting and was not cited as a variance in the Planning Board approval. Attached and below is a calculation table.
3. Height – 16-1-6.5.4
a. The code limits the height of a building based on the setback from the primary entrance. The limit reads as a limit for each building.
b. A building with a 15 foot setback has a 30 feet height limit.
c. This building height actually varies from 28 feet (1 unit on each end), then 34 feet ( 2 units on either side of the 2 center units) and then 40 feet (2 units in the center).
d. Since there is only one building to be sold in 8 fee simple units, it appears that the staff made an interpretation that the setback and height restrictions can vary for one building.
e. Please review the building elevation in the attached Planning Board package. This potential variance is not in the staff report and was cited not as a variance in the Planning Board approval.

We believe that the Council should vote to :

1. Ask the developer to re-consider the proposal or grant variances for Density and Parking
2. Clarify if the variable height restrictions for one building meets code that allows for a maximum height of 40 feet for buildings with a 65 foot setback.

Respectfully,

Tim C. Gupton

Tim C. Gupton
President
Blowing Rock Civic Association, Inc.
235 Meadow Lane
Blowing Rock, NC
28605