REPORT TO MEMBERSHIP OF BLOWING ROCK CIVIC ASSOCIATION’S ACTIVITIES 1/1/2018 TO 3/15/2019

REPORT TO MEMBERSHIP OF BLOWING ROCK CIVIC ASSOCIATION ACTIVITIES 1/1/2018 – 3/15/2019

1.       BRCA NOW HAS OVER 300 MEMBERS INCLUDING TOWN MERCHANTS, HOTEL OWNERS AND MANAGERS, COMMERCIAL PROPERTY OWNERS, HOMEOWNERS, RESIDENTS (FULL TIME AND SEASONAL) AND TAXPAYERS (ALL FULL TIME).

2.       A GREAT DEAL OF THOUGHTFUL HARD WORK BY BRCA BOARD MEMBER TIM GUPTON RESULTED IN THE FIRST BRCA ANNUAL COMMUNICATION AND ACTION PLAN INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING (SEE COMPLETE PLAN ON BRAC WEBSITE  WWW.BRCIVIC.COM

A. PROTECTING OUR NEIGHBORHOOD INFRASTRUCTURE, PROTECTING OUR RESIDENTIAL ECONOMY AND PROTECTING OUR VIBRANT VILLAGE

B. HOMEOWNERS ARE THE CORNERSTONE OF THE BLOWING ROCK ECONOMY PROVIDING 85% OF TOWN PROPERTY TAX REVENUE AND 60% OF TOTAL TOWN REVENUE

C. WORK WITH THE CHAMBER, TDA, LOCAL REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY AND OTHERS TO PROMOTE HOME OWNERSHIP, PRIMARILY SECOND HOME OWNERSHIP, AS THE TOWN’S PRIMARY ECONOMIC ENGINE

D. ENCOURAGE THE USE OF PROFESSIONAL EXPERTS TO ADVISE ON TOWN DEVELOPMENT. THE COUNCIL HAS RECENTLY APPOINTED A COMMITTEE TO EXPLORE THIS POSSIBILITY.

E. ENCOURAGE OUTSOURCING TO ENHANCE AND EXPEDITE IMPROVEMENT OF NEIGHBORHOOD INFRASTRUCTURE

F. ENCOURAGE A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN SELF FUNDED DOWNTOWN PARKING

 

3.       BRCA APPOINTED A DEVELOPMENT EVALUATION COMMITTEE THAT HAS BEEN VERY BUSY OVER THE PAST YEAR. THIS COMMITTEE IS COMPOSED OF THREE ENGINEERS, A COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL, A CONSTRUCTION EXECUTIVE, A RETIRED SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE, A CONSULTING ARCHITECT, A CONSULTING TOWN PLANNER, AND THREE CONSULTING ATTORNEYS. THE MISSION OF THIS COMMITTEE IS TO EVALUATE ALL DEVELOPMENTS PROPOSED FOR BLOWING ROCK AND ANY PROPOSED CHANGES IN LAND USE CODE AND TO OBJECTIVELY REPORT THE PERTINENT FACTS OF THESE MATTERS TO THE PUBLIC. IN THE PAST YEAR THE COMMITTEE ACTIVITY INCLUDED:

A. EVALUATION OF THE MORNINGSIDE 12 CONDO SHORT TERM RENTAL DEVELOPMENT PROPOSED FOR THE .905 ACRE PROPERTY BACK OF THE SPECKLED TROUT. CONCERNS EXPRESSED AT TOWN HEARING ABOUT DENSITY AND SCALE – PROJECT DENIED UNANIMOUSLY BY COUNCIL.

B. EVALUATION OF THE 1150 MAIN ST. PROJECT WITH 6 CONDOS AND 2 RETAIL SPACES REPLACING THE OLD WHITE HOUSE AT THE CORNER OF MAIN AND PINE ST. DOWNTOWN. THE COMMITTEE FOUND NO CONCERNS – PROJECT APPROVED BY COUNCIL.

C. EVALUATION OF LAND USE CODE CHANGES PROPOSED TO GIVE DEVELOPERS MORE AUTHORITY FOR DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT. THE COMMITTEE WITH CONSIDERABLE ASSISTANCE FROM PROFESSIONALS EXPRESSED CONCERNS ABOUT THESE CHANGES DAMAGING THE CHARM AND CHARACTER OF DOWNTOWN – CODE CHANGES WERE UNANIMOUSLY DENIED BY COUNCIL. SIGNIFICANT DISCREPANCIES WERE DISCOVERED BY THE COMMITTEE IN THE PUBLISHED LAND USE CODE COMPARED TO ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS OF THE TOWN PLANNING OFFICE. THESE DISCREPANCIES ARE BEING ADDRESSED WITH THE TOWN BY BRCA LAWYERS. THESE DISCREPANCIES COULD HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT ON DEVELOPMENTS.

D. EVALUATION OF THE RAINEY LODGE 40 BEDROOM, 53 PARKING PLACES HOTEL DEVELOPMENT PROPOSED FOR THE .905 ACRE PROPERTY BACK OF THE SPECKLED TROUT. A SUBSTANTIAL EFFORT IS UNDERWAY TO ANALYZE FACTS ABOUT THIS PROJECT BY THE COMMITTEE AND PROFESSIONAL PLANNING, ARCHITECTURAL AND LEGAL CONSULTANTS AND TO GET FACTS OUT TO THE PUBLIC ABOUT IT. WE HAVE STRONGLY URGED COUNCIL TO REQUIRE THAT THE DEVELOPER PRODUCE A TRAFFIC STUDY, FIRE AND RESCUE STUDY AND  A STUDY OF THE IMPACT ON HOME VALUES CLOSE TO THE DEVELOPMENT.

4.  THE BRCA MUNICIPAL ASSETS COMMITTEE ADVISES ON BENEFICIAL USES OF TOWN ASSETS

A. THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDED THAT THE TOWN REJECT A REQUEST THAT A GROUP BE  GIVEN THE OLD FIREHOUSE BUILDING BY USE OF A TOKEN LEASE TO CREATE A THEATER/CULTURAL CENTER. THE COMMITTEE REPORTED THAT THE BUILDING HAD AN ESTIMATED VALUE OF $ 800,000. TOWN MAINTENANCE EQUIPMENT FOR ALL DOWNTOWN PARK AND GREEN SPACE IS CURRENTLY STORED IN THE BUILDING. THE TOWN DETERMINED THAT A NEW BUILDING COSTING SEVERAL HUNDRED THOUSANDS WOULD HAVE TO BE BUILT TO STORE THIS VALUABLE EQUIPMENT IF THE OLD FIREHOUSE WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE GROUP. BRCA ATTORNEYS POINTED OUT THAT STATE LAW WOULD REQUIRE COMPETITIVE BIDS IF THE OLD FIREHOUSE BUILDING CONTROL WAS TRANSFERRED. COUNCIL REJECTED TRANSFER OF THE BUILDING TO THE REQUESTING GROUP.

B. THE COMMITTEE HAS REQUESTED THAT THE MAYVIEW TOWN STORAGE YARD BE TRANSFERRED TO THE BLOWING ROCK CHARITY HORSE SHOW FOUNDATION IN EXCHANGE FOR PROPERTY FROM THE FOUNDATION CLOSER TO THE TOWN’S MAYVIEW MAINTENCE FACILITY. THIS WOULD ENHANCE MAYVIEW BY TURNING AN UNSIGHTLY INDUSTRIAL SITE INTO AN ATTRACTIVE PASTURE IN ONE OF BLOWING ROCK’S PREMIER NEIGHBORHOODS. THIS WOULD ENCOURAGE HOME DEVELOPMENT IN THIS IMPORTANT AREA. THIS EFFORT WAS PUT ON HOLD BY THE TOWN UNTIL A NEW TOWN MANAGER IS HIRED.

5.    OTHER IMPORTANT FACTS AND ACTIVITIES

A. VERY IMPORTANT BLOWING ROCK NUMBERS:

1. FULL TIME POPULATION  1213

2. PEAK SEASONAL POPULATION  9,000

3. TOWN OPERATING BUDGET $ 8,216,000

4. TAX BASE PER PERSON  $ 941,467  ONE OF THE HIGHEST IN NORTH CAROLINA!!!

5. PROPERTY TAXES PER PERSON  $ 3,557

6. MEDIAN HOUSE VALUE $ 556,900  ONE OF THE HIGHEST IN NORTH CAROLINA!!!

7. WATER AND SEWER BUDGET $ 2,114,000

8. FULL TIME TOWN EMPLOYEES 68

9. MEDIAN AGE OF BLOWING ROCK RESIDENTS  60.1 YRS.

B. BLOWING ROCK HAS THREE EXCELLENT DEVELOPMENTS UNDERWAY THAT ARE ADDING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN TAXES TO A VERY SOUND TOWN FINANCIAL STATUS

1. CHESTNUT AT BLOWING ROCK – 23 LUXURY TOWNHOUSES SELLING AT $ 1,050,000 AND UP

2. THE TOWNES AT BLOWING ROCK – 6 LUXURY CONDOS SELLING AT $ 849,000

3. THE INN ON CORNISH – A 21 ROOM BOUTIQUE HOTEL

C. AN EXTENSIVE ANALYSIS WAS DONE OF THE BLOWING ROCK PARKS AND RECREATION OPERATION WITH THE FOLLOWING RESULTS:

1. BRCA STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT PARKS AND REC OUTSOURCE VARIOUS FUNCTIONS INSTEAD OF HIRING A PROPOSED TWO MORE EMPLOYEES.

2. IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT 64% TO 92% OF PARKS AND REC ACTIVITIES BENEFIT NON RESIDENTS OF THE TOWN. THE POOL IS 92% USED BY NON RESIDENTS PRIMARILY BY OTHER WATAUGA COUNTY RESIDENTS. BRCA HAS URGED THE TOWN TO SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE FEES FOR NON RESIDENTS’ POOL USE AND WE HAVE ASKED THE COUNTY TO CONTRIBUTE MORE MONEY TO THE POOL OPERATION.

D. BOARD MEMBER TIM GUPTON HAS DONE A THOROUGH ANALYSIS OF TOWN FINANCES AND HE CONTINUES TO CLOSELY MONITOR TOWN FINANCIAL STATUS AND ACTIONS.

E. BRCA CONTINUES TO ENCOURAGE VOTER REGISTRATION BY BLOWING ROCK HOMEOWNERS. THIS FALL IS A CRUCIAL ELECTION OF TWO COUNCIL MEMBERS AND THE MAYOR. THERE ARE SOME SHARPLY DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHIES ABOUT THE FUTURE OF BLOWING ROCK AMONG THE LIKELY CANDIDATES IN THIS ELECTION. SOME FAVOR VIRTUALLY UNLIMITED GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT THAT FAVORS TOURISM AND BUSINESSES. WHILE OTHERS TAKE A GREATER INTEREST IN BLOWING ROCK PRESERVATION AND COMPATIBLE DEVELOPMENT WITH SIGNIFICANT CONSIDERATION  FOR HOMEOWNERS . WE DO NOT ENDORSE CANDIDATES BUT WE FAVOR PRESERVATION OF THE COMMUNITY AND QUALITY DEVELOPMENT THAT BENEFITS HOMEOWNERS. BRCA WILL HOLD A COMMUNITY CANDIDATES’ ROUNDTABLE MEETING THURSDAY OCTOBER 3, 2019 AT THE AMERICAN LEGION BUILDING, RECEPTION AT 6:00 P.M. FOLLOWED AT 6:30 P.M. BY THE ROUNDTABLE ALL BEING EXPERTLY PLANNED BY OUR BRCA CANDIDATES COMMUNITY MEETINGS COMMITTEE.

F. IN OCTOBER OF 2018 THE BRCA CANDIDATES COMMUNITY MEETINGS COMMITTEE HELD A VERY WELL ATTENDED CANDIDATES ROUNDTABLE WITH CANDIDATES FOR WATAUGA COUNTY COMMISSION. THE COUNTY COMMISSION IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO BLOWING ROCK. IN RECENT YEARS THE COUNTY TOOK AWAY MORE THAN $ 100,000 OF SALES TAX MONEY FROM BLOWING ROCK AND THEY STILL HAVE NOT MADE GOOD ON A COMMITMENT TO MAN A RESCUE AMBULANCE FOR BLOWING ROCK. ADDITIONALLY THE STATE LEGISLATURE IS CONSIDERING ABOLISHING THE BLOWING ROCK ABC BOARD AND HAVING A WATAUGA ABC BOARD IN CHARGE OF THE ENTIRE COUNTY. THE BLOWING ROCK ABC OPERATION YIELDED $ 155,000 TO THE TOWN LAST YEAR. THIS COULD BE LOST. WATAUGA CO. COMMISSIONERS HAVE COMMITTED TO NOT RAISE TAXES AGAIN TO FUND THE BOONE RECREATION CENTER NOW BEING BUILT AT AN ESTIMATED COST OF $ 40 MILLION.

G. BRCA BECAME EXTENSIVELY INVOLVED IN THE TOWN’S SEARCH FOR A NEW TOWN MANAGER. BRCA BOARD MEMBER TONY RAND GAVE THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEMBERS THE NAMES OF TWO EXECUTIVE SEARCH FIRMS RECOMMENDED BY UNC SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT DEAN MIKE SMITH TO ASSIST THE TOWN WITH THE PROCESS.

 

SINCERELY,

 

GEORGE T. WILCOX

PRESIDENT

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