Snow!!!! Thank you Blowing Rock Public Works Team

(Photo courtesy of Lonnie Webster)

January 25,2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners and Public Works Team,

The snow has been beautiful to observe, but sometimes we may take for granted the Public Works Team that makes our lives better.

One of our board members, Joe Bogdahn, let me know how much he appreciated our quality Town services. HIs quote reflects the appreciation that we all feel, but rarely express.

“Without question the Blowing Rock Public Works team epitomizes superior customer service.   Their responsiveness to every situation has been outstanding – whether  replacing a burst water meter at the beginning of a holiday weekend, turning off my water when I was unable to get up before a big freeze, or keeping the town roads clear in snowstorms.  Director Matt Blackburn  and Shane Fox show exemplary leadership and I know they are proud of their team.”

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President

 

 

Sustainable Tourism Management Report by Roger Brooks

January 22, 2022

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority released the Sustainable Tourism Management Report by Roger Brooks yesterday.

You can read the full report at http://townofblowingrocknc.gov/TDAplan

The report and its recommendations will require extensive review and evaluation by the Town Council and the community during 2022.

Homeowners and Business Owners have a mutual stake in working with the Town Council to solve congestion and parking problems to balance the quality of life for homeowners and maintaining a positive experience for visitors.

Regards,
Tim Gupton, President

 

Town Council Agenda – January 11 2022

January 8, 2022

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Town Council will meet on Tuesday January 11th, at 6 pm.

You can read the entire agenda and board package using the following link to the Town’s website  at https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/residents/meeting-agendas/town-council-agenda

Highlights of the agenda include:

1.    Town Council – Swear in Pete Gherini to serve on the Town Council.

2.    Hotel Project – Approval of a 14 unit hotel suite project between Pine Street and Laurel Lane on 1/3 acre site just behind 1150 Main Street mixed-use building. The project is being developed by Steve Heatherington who developed the 1150 Main Street project.  The request is a Conditional Rezoning District which allows the community to comment at the Public Hearing. The developer is requesting a variance for building height as described in the board package. The Blowing Rock Civic Association neither endorses nor opposes a proposed development. Our evaluation is intended to provide the Council and citizens with pertinent facts concerning the proposed development and alert them to the process that will that will be used by the Town in approving or denying the proposed development. We attended meetings, evaluated this project and the prior townhouse project proposed by the developer and shared those observations with the Planning Board, Town Staff and Town Council. The developer withdrew the first project due to concerns with adequate onsite parking for short term rental units.  He redesigned the project and proposed a hotel concept with parking under the building.

3.    Tourism Development Authority – Selection of a Town Council members to serve on the TDA Board.

Regards,
Tim Gupton

IF YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS EMAIL AND ARE NOT A MEMBER, PLEASE CONSIDER SUPPORTING OUR GOAL OF KEEPING OUR HOMEOWNERS INFORMED BY SIGNING UP AT THE FOLLOWING LINK TO OUR WEBSITE – https://www.brcivic.org/become-a-member/

Tom Ross – New Executive Director

Protects | Preserves | Informs | Engages | Unites

December 12, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Our board of trustees is pleased to announce that one of our board members, Tom Ross, has agreed to assume the role of Executive Director for our Civic Association.

Last summer, the board authorized an initiative to begin a transition from an all-volunteer organization to professionally staffed organization. Our main goal was to identify and recruit a resident of Blowing Rock with business or professional experience, someone who lives and experiences living in our unique village.

After interviewing candidates, Tom graciously stepped up to assume the role of Executive Director for no compensation.  His commitment allows our organization to implement improvements and raise funding to successfully make this important transition.  So far, we have raised $30K from the Broyhill Foundation and board members to seed the transition funding.

Tom is from Concord. He graduated from UNC and earned a MBA from Wake Forrest. He business careers included banking, controller for a public company in the mining industry and other business interests that he managed and sold.   He has had a home in Blowing Rock for over 20 years and recently retired to live here full-time in the Gideon Ridge neighborhood.

In addition to adding the Executive Director role, we have implemented additional governance changes towards our goal by

  1. Increasing the number of our board of trustees
  2. Establishing an Executive Committee
  3. the role of president and executive director

These changes have allowed for us to broaden community representation and skill sets on the board of trustees, focus operational decisions with the Executive Committee, leverage our founders experience and time commitment, plan for future leadership succession, engage board members to lead initiatives to raise additional membership support, engage members, improve communications and monitor short-term rental challenges, and allow the president focus on communication for the organization.

Adding an Executive Director role will allow our organization to improve membership communications, recruit new members, add business supporters, and improve our software capabilities that underpin our communication processes.

Please join us in welcoming and thanking Tom for his service.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President

Holiday Greetings

Holiday Greetings

Blowing Rock Civic Association

We wish you a joyous Christmas and healthy New Year

Photo courtesy of Lonnie Webster

 

 

 

2021 Homeowner Economy

December 20, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

No surprise, 2021 was a banner year for homeowners!

We are seeing trends that we haven’t seen before including demand in excess of supply, rising prices, substantial investment in new homes and renovations and many new people choosing Blowing Rock as their “Primary Residence”.

Our homeowner economy continues to be a significant driver of our overall economy.  Homeowner property taxes fund 51% of the Town’s Operating Budget compared to 14% from business owners including both property taxes (9%) and occupancy taxes paid by consumers (5%).  Sales taxes represent the largest secondary source of revenue (14%).

Demographics are shifting to some extent yet to be measured to include more retirees and young families who are choosing Blowing Rock as their “Primary Residence”.  Additionally, there are more families from regional cities who are spending more and more time in Blowing Rock throughout the year. Summer seasonal residents continue to have a strong presence.  Area country clubs experienced record numbers of new applicants in 2021 reflecting the overall trends.

Blowing Rock is a small island of 3 square miles within a fire and school district of 50 square miles. Our small town is hometown to a much larger footprint than our town limits.  Having  a small city nearby like Boone makes life in our small town easier as we have access to healthcare, big box retail and additional cultural  and recreation resources.  Managing the demands on our small town resources will continue to be an ongoing challenge as we balance quality of life for residents and visitor experience for overnight and day tourists.

The facts speak for the trends.

CONSTRUCTION PERMITS

Permits are logged at application date,  not date the date construction or final approval.

Residential construction permits to date total $31M compared to $5M for commercial construction permits. One interesting data point is that permits for 15 new single family homes totaled $17.5M, averaging $1.2M each.

Everyone seems to be renovating their homes as evidenced by 299 permits averaging $45K.Renovation permits dominated the volume of permits with 299 residential permits totaling $13.6M and 67 commercial permits totaling $5.0M.  There were no new construction commercial permits.

Total permits totaled $35M approaching the highest year in 2017 when the Chestnut Condos drove the total to $39.5M. A typical year would be around $20M.

MLS CLOSINGS

The last two years have been big years for local home sales.  Total home sales totaled $202M in 2021 compared to $127M in 2020. There are additional 26 homes under contract.

There were 267 home sales to date in 2021 compared to 246 home sales in 2020, but the average home sales price increase 48% to $758K.

The highest sales price was $4.3M in 2021 and  11 homes with a sales price in excess of $2.0M.

Lot sales jump in number and value – 109 lots averaging $181K in 2021 compared to 60 lots averaging $165K in 2020.

2022 Pivotal Year

As you know, a lot a significant decisions will be made in 2022 driven by the Sustainable Tourism Plan and the upcoming W&S Project for Main Street.  You can hear the Town Council set priorities at the Winter Retreat on January 24th through 26th.  Please make plans to attend in person or watch by video.

Regards,

Tim Gupton

President

Application for Town Advisory Boards

December 11, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Please consider serving on our advisory boards.  See an updated notice from the Town Clerk below.

Regards,
Tim Gupton
President

 

TOWN OF BLOWING ROCK
SEEKS APPLICANTS FOR VARIOUS BOARDS

Are you interested in the future of your community and have extra time to volunteer?  Would you like to serve on one of Blowing Rock’s municipal boards?

The Blowing Rock Town Council will soon consider appointments to the Planning Board, the Board of Adjustment, the Tourism Development Authority, the Alcohol Beverage Control Board and the Blowing Rock Appearance Advisory Commission. Each of these boards has an essential role in preserving and protecting the quality and character of our community.

Planning Board – 4 Vacancies
The Planning Board conducts studies and makes recommendations to the Town Council on matters related to the growth and development of the Town. The Planning Board reviews all requests for new subdivisions, all requests for zoning changes, requests for new commercial development, and makes recommendations to the Town Council on whether those requests should be approved, modified, or denied. The Town has established standards for new subdivisions and other new development through the adoption of a Land Use Ordinance (often referred to as the Zoning Code). The Planning Board reviews any proposed changes to the Land Use Ordinance and will often initiate such changes to ensure that the regulations in the Land Use Ordinance are current and provide the proper protection for the Town and its residents.  There are nine (9) members on the Planning Board, eight (8) members who live within Town limits and one being an Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) member and the Board meets at 5:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. There will be 4 (Mike Page, Sam Glover, Vacant Spot and Pete Gherini) vacancies on this Board.  These vacancies are for those members who live within Town limits.

Board of Adjustment – 1 Vacancy
The Land Use Ordinance establishes regulations for the use and development of land within the community.  However, sometimes a property owner, because of special characteristics on his or her property, will request a variance from the specific regulations in the Land Use Ordinance.  The Board of Adjustment reviews variance requests and decides whether those requests should be approved.  The Board of Adjustment also hears appeals from any person who may disagree with any order, directive, or decision made by the Zoning Administrator.  There are six (6) full members on the Board of Adjustment, one being an Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ), plus two (2) alternate members.  The Board meets at 5:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month, when cases are pending. There will be 1 (Eli “EB” Springs) vacancy, 1 full member vacancy.

Tourism Development Authority- 2 Vacancies
The Tourism Development Authority (TDA) promotes, solicits, and encourages tourism in the Town of Blowing Rock in accordance with adopted Town plans/policies and administers the appropriation of the room occupancy tax proceeds. This Authority also studies the impact of tourism on the Town and develops strategies to minimize any negative impacts of tourism on the Town. The Authority shall have at least one/third of its members affiliated with lodging establishments that collect the occupancy tax and at least three/fourths of its members active in the promotion of travel and tourism in Blowing Rock. There are five (5) members of the Tourism Development Authority. The Board meets at 3:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday in March, June, September and December.
This Board will have 2 (Kevin Walker and Greg Tarbutton) vacancies is for the Lodging 1 and Lodging 2 vacancies.

The Blowing Rock Appearance Advisory Commission (BRAAC) – 2 Vacancies
The Blowing Rock Appearance Advisory Commission consists of five (5) members, all of whom are citizens and residents of the Planning and Zoning jurisdiction of the Town.  Members are appointed by the Town Council for a term of three (3) years.  It is desirable that at least one member be a member of the design profession. BRACC shall have all of the responsibilities and duties imposed by the enabling ordinance and shall promote and assist in the implementation of general community beautification in accordance with adopted Town plans/policies. This commission also studies the appearance characteristics of the Town and recommends standards and policies of design for the Town.  Also serves as the Town tree and public art board.  The Board meets at 9:00 a.m. the first Tuesday of the month.  There will be 2 (Bo Henderson and Melissa Pickett) vacancies.

Alcohol Beverage Control Board- 1 Vacancy
The Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABC) oversees the operation and management of the Town ABC store and employs a local ABC officer to oversee the enforcement of State of North Carolina ABC laws. There are three (3) members on the ABC Board and the Board meets at 3:00 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.  This Board will have 1 (Jerry Starnes) vacancy.

If you have an interest in serving on one of these important citizen boards, please compete a Board Appointment Application by Monday, January 3, 2022.  The application is attached, but also is located on our website ( https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10278/637411211069000000 ) or a copy can be picked up at Town Hall.  Once completed please submit to Hilari Hubner, Town Clerk, at Post Office Box 47, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 either by mail or email to http://clerk@townofblowingrocknc.gov.

Hilari H Hubner

Town Clerk/Tax Collector
Town of Blowing Rock
1036 Main Street
PO Box 47
Blowing Rock, NC 28605
828-295-5200 (Office)
828-295-5202 (Fax)

 

 

Copyright © 2021 Blowing Rock Civic Association, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:

Blowing Rock Civic Association

PO Box 2471

Blowing Rock, NC 28605-2471

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

 

Sustainable Tourism Plan by Roger Brooks

December 9, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority engaged Roger Brooks of Roger Brooks International and Destination Development Association to prepare a Sustainable Tourism Management Plan for Blowing Rock.  You can learn about Roger Brooks and Destination Design Association at https://www.rogerbrooksinternational.com/

Roger Brooks returned to Blowing Rock on December 8th to present a draft of Blowing Rock’s Sustainable Tourism Management Plan to the board of the Tourism Development Authority and the  public. His public presentation can be  viewed  on the Town’s website at https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/residents/meetings  A complete report will be published and made available to the community.

The main question for Roger was “What can be done in Blowing Rock to mitigate the effects that being an extremely popular visitor destination has on the quality of life for local residents, particularly during the peak summer and fall months?

The bottom line: Blowing rock does not suffer from overtourism EXCEPT when it comes to the infrastructure to support local residents, workers and visitors.  It comes down to one primary issue: a SEVERE LACK OF PARKING, which I think of as  CONGESTION.

Roger points out that  we have a significant number of day visitors that drive into Downtown for the day from our 50 mile radius market or from short-term rental properties outside of Downtown that really is the cause our congestion together with parking for our 400 employees.  During the month of October 2021, there were 30,000 people accessing our two bathrooms in Memorial Park. The people are here, but they have no where to park and often drive around looking for a space to park for the first 30 minutes to an hour.  Basically, they are “lost” and looking for somewhere to park.

I know from serving on the TDA board that the marketing program primarily focuses on attracting overnight visitors, but our natural beauty, outdoor activities, history, proximity to the Parkway and Boone, easy drive into town on Hwy 321, our quaint Downtown, and our inviting Downtown Park attract people for the day.

A survey with almost 500 respondents was conducted.  The demographics of the responders are as expected: Residents – 80%  – 39% full-time and 41% part-time.
Part-time Residents – 6 to 9 months – 15%, 9 to 12 months – 22%
Age – 45 to 65 – 43%, 65 or older – 43%, 30 to 44 – 12%.

The overall recommendations are designed to reorient Downtown to focus on pedestrians, not cars in order to improve the experience and manage congestion and  retain the authenticity of our unique historical downtown.

The Vision is designed to focus a first-time visitor who is driving on the highway to realize that  “You have Arrived” in Blowing Rock at the intersection of Sunset Drive and Valley Boulevard with parking nearby allowing visitors to park and walk into Downtown or take a shuttle to Main Street.

One funny observation is our confused branding of Hwy 321.  You come into town from the south on the “Lenoir or Blowing Rock Turnpike”  into the stretch of road called “321”,  “By-Pass” or “Valley Boulevard”.  Given our concerns about speeding and noise, a re-branding of the name and focus on a Sunset Gateway will help explain to drivers that  “You have Arrived” into Blowing Rock which will re-enforce that we are a destination, not a cross-roads.

Key action steps from the 24 recommendations are to:

  1. Set up a Destination Team that includes all stakeholders to provide input to the Town Council,
  2. Prepare a Downtown Development Plan
  3. Implement paid parking in Downtown
  4. Encourage private-public partnerships to add paid parking lots in Downtown
  5. Remove about 85 parking spaces from both sides of Main Street,
  6. Extend sidewalks on both sides of Main Street with improved landscaping to allow for more outdoor dining, less pedestrian crowding and control of jay-walking.
  7. Eliminate mandatory parking requirements for retail and restaurants uses and  building permits on Main Street and Sunset Drive that would be covered by the enhance parking system.  To clarify, I would add that parking requirements for hotels and short-term rental units must be met to provide on-site parking in all of the business districts from Downtown to Valley Boulevard.
  8. Build a architecturally appropriate parking deck with 600 spaces on Valley Boulevard to provide reduced paid parking rates for our workforce of about 400 employees and day visitors,
  9. Add a dedicated shuttle from the parking garage to Downtown,
  10. Enhance the intersection and crosswalks at Sunset and Valley Boulevard to calm traffic and create presence to focus the gateway to Downtown at Sunset Drive,
  11. Implement a standard and attractive way-finding plan,
  12. Move overhead utilities underground on Main Street from 221 to BRAHM,
  13. Change the land use code for West Main Street to enhance green space and minimize concrete
  14. Add entertainment venues to the park, and
  15. Encourage activities and retail stores to remain open after 6 pm to encourage overnight stays rather than day visits.

The overall cost is substantial, but the parking and shuttle solution is the biggest investment that should be self-funded with parking revenues. Funding sources, other than parking revenue, to implement the plan will need to be determined including incremental funding from business owners.  Hopefully, we will be able to capture some of the Federal infrastructure funding.

Next year is critical. The Town Council and community will need to focus in 2022  on developing the plans for Downtown and Valley Boulevard that will implement these recommendations as the Town replaces the Water & Sewer system from North to South Main Street in 2023 or 2024.

Fortunately, we do not have to pay the $4.8M cost from Town funds since our local legislative delegation secured the funding in the recently approved state budget. This will relieve the pressure on our future W&S rates that would have been required to  fund the debt service.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President

 

 

 

 

 

Public Presentation of Sustainable Tourism Management Plan for Blowing Rock  

December 1, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

BLOWING ROCK, N.C. (December 2021) – This past summer, the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority (TDA) commissioned an in-depth study of Blowing Rock as a preliminary step toward a Sustainable Tourism Management Plan. Professional researcher and facilitator Roger Brooks of the Destination Development Association was hired to help the TDA and the Town of Blowing Rock coordinate the effort required to create this plan. In July of 2021, Mr. Brooks interviewed numerous residents and business owners while spending the month in town to learn about Blowing Rock first-hand.

The Sustainable Tourism Management Plan is intended to address challenges with parking and traffic flow, infrastructure, pedestrian movement, and strain on local and natural resources. Mr. Brooks made some preliminary suggestions before his departure this summer, but the completed plan will offer action lists, budgets, and funding sources for all recommendations.

On Wednesday, December 8, Mr. Brooks will return to present Blowing Rock’s Sustainable Tourism Management Plan to the public. The presentation will begin at 5:30pm at Town Hall. A live stream of the event will be available on the Town of Blowing Rock’s YouTube channel (where Council Meetings are streamed).

“The Blowing Rock TDA is excited to see the final results of a nearly year-long endeavor to better understand our tourism product and the challenges we’re facing. The success of Blowing Rock is dependent on our tourism industry and we want the industry to benefit everyone in our community. This research and ultimately a Sustainable Tourism Management Plan will help us reach that goal.” said Tracy Brown, Director of the Blowing Rock TDA.

“I’m really looking forward to my third trip to beautiful Blowing Rock” Brooks said about his return visit. “This time in early winter, giving me an opportunity to see the community in every season,”

Brooks also noted that “It’s the sum of all the small parts that creates an outstanding experience for both visitors and locals alike.”

At the workshop, Brooks said he will showcase a few of the key solutions that will help mitigate the effects of a successful tourism destination and how it impacts local residents.

For more information about the presentation, study, or the management plan, contact Tracy Brown at the Blowing Rock TDA, 828-295-4636 or tbrown@visitblowingrock.com.

Giving Tuesday

WE LOVE BLOWING ROCK!

Dear Homeowners,

Your support enables homeowners to have  a voice in the community that we all love and want to preserve. Blowing Rock Civic Association is dedicated to promoting and improving the quality of life in Blowing Rock by evaluating civic issues, educating and engaging residents on key issues, working with the local government and business community and encouraging citizens to be involved and vote.

Your concerns are our concerns, so please share with us, at any time, any concern that you believe we need to help you address.

Next year will be a crucial year for our Mayor, Town Council and Town Manager to focus on key solutions affecting our downtown land use codes, downtown infrastructure,  tourism congestion, 24/7 ambulance service and New River/Middle Fork watershed on Valley Boulevard.

You can join the Town Council to hear first hand their discussions and decisions on priorities at their annual winter retreat on Monday, January 24th through Wednesday, January 26th. We will share logistics in a later update.  Civic participation is key to a better understanding of issues, solutions and priorities set by our Town’s  elected officials and staff.  Remember that we will soon have a new council with two new elected citizens.

In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, we ask that you become a member, if not already,  or upgrade your membership level  to make sure your voice is heard.   Our website allows an easy method to process your support. https://www.brcivic.org/become-a-member/

 

We wish you a happy holiday season and a successful and safe new year!

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President