By Jesse Wood
Worried about setting a potential precedent, Mayor Pro-Tem Al Yount took a parking-related item off of the consent agenda and put it up for discussion among the council members.
In October, the Blowing Rock Town Council approved a conditional use permit for the renovation of the old Moody Furniture building on Sunset Drive into a restaurant/retail establishment.
Within the approved permit, the council required the property owners, Ann and Bob Lovern, to set aside two parking spaces within the development’s parking lot for the generally public because two public spaces along Sunset Drive were going to be removed to provide access to the site.
The site will be accessed one way from Sunset Drive and exited out to Maple Street.
Lovern previously overlooked the passage in the approved CUP that stated he was required to provide two public spots within his development, so he contacted town staff. Town Manager Scott Fogleman said that Lovern’s “rationale” is that since he’s already providing 14 more spaces than town code required, he shouldn’t have to reserve two spaces for the general public.
Yount mentioned that while he wasn’t against the development, he knows that the topic of parking “hits to the core” of community members as “lots of people have paid extra money for additional parking spaces.”
Yount said he wanted to hear from other council members and also anyone in the audience – no one spoke up – on how they felt about Lovern’s rationale and granting this provision. Yount implied that he didn’t want to set a precedent.
“That’s where I am with it. I am not opposed to it,” Yount said. “I hope we get this straightened out this time and don’t have to do this anymore.”
Councilmen Ray Pickett said he was fine in granting this provision because Lovern was already providing more parking spaces required by the town and that people who park here to eat and shop at this business and then subsequently else where would just be allowing for other motorists to park in the other public spaces.
“Part of development is you may have to lose those two spots,” Pickett said, adding that 24/7 enforcement of these two spots would be next to impossible.
Mayor J.B. Lawrence added, “It’s no different than parking on the street and going into the restaurant.”
Fogleman said he put the matter on the agenda rather than returning it to the planning board and then back to the council in January because time is of the essence and the developer wants to keep the development process moving.
The decision passed unanimously 4-0 with new Council Member Jim Steele abstaining.