By Jesse Wood
With High Country Host planning to lease a portion of Appalachian Ski Mtn.’s proposed welcome center at the corner of Edmisten Road and U.S. 321 in Blowing Rock, ASM General Manager Brad Moretz will request an amendment to the project’s conditional use permit that was granted this past winter.
The request will take place at Tuesday’s Blowing Rock Town Council meeting.
According to a memo from Blowing Rock Planning Director Kevin Rothrock to the Blowing Rock Town Council, Moretz wants to increase the square footage of the building from 960 square feet to 1,547 square feet to accommodate High Country Host.
Rothrock noted that the appearance won’t change much and that the prior application already included more than enough parking spaces required for a building that is bigger than 1,500 square feet.
Rothrock cited a town ordinance that states that minor revisions may be approved by council without a formal application or public hearing if the proposed increase in building square footage “appears to have no substantial impact on neighboring properties or the general public.”
When ASM’s 45-year-old leased billboard, which is located right across the street from where this welcome center is proposed, was torn down to build an access road for the new post-acute care facility, Moretz and company proposed building a welcome center and a freestanding sign to advertise the ski resort.
Not counting this potential modification, Moretz said that the project would cost $800,000 and that the costs included the purchase of the acre and a half property along the corridor, paving of entrance and parking spaces, curbing and gutter, the building and sign, which both match the color and architectural style of the ski lodge and a detention pond to protect the nearby creek.
As for High Country Host, it currently operates on state-owned property on U.S. 321 in Boone, near the old Kmart shopping center. The old Kmart property is currently on the market, prime for redevelopment, and for the past several months, the NCDOT has been in talks with developers that want to purchase the building that houses High Country Host.
In February, Moretz noted that he was in talks with representatives of High Country Host about moving to Blowing Rock and operating the proposed welcome center year round.
“We’ve offered to make it to them on a rent-free basis. They would just have to pay ongoing property and operating costs, which would be taxes, insurance, lawn care and utilities,” Moretz said. “I think it’s a pretty nice deal.”