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Blowing Rock Town Council To Consider Sign Ordinance Changes Along U.S. 321 on Tuesday

U.S. 321 corridor
U.S. 321 corridor

By Jesse Wood

The Blowing Rock Town Council will meet on Tuesday evening to discuss and vote on an amendment to the sign ordinance as it relates to signs in the U.S. 321 corridor where the speed limit is more than 35 mph.

Signage along this stretch of road became a hot topic when Appalachian Ski Mtn. sought – and eventually gained – approval for its new sign and visitors’ center at the corner of Edmisten Road and U.S. 321.

Recommended by the Blowing Rock Planning Commission, the proposed ordinance amendments are listed below. See current regulations here.

Column/Ground Sign for Single Tenants

  • 60 square feet in size
  • 10 feet in height
  • 12 feet sign structure height
  • 12 feet sign structure length

Column/Ground Sign for Multiple Tenants

  • 65 square feet in size
  • 13 feet in height
  • 14 feet sign structure height
  • 12 feet sign structure length

For the most part, the proposed amendments allow for bigger signs. For comparison, the Appalachian Ski Mtn. sign that was approved in February was 65 square feet in size; 16 feet in height; and 14 feet in length. Many folks, including Blowing Rock Mayor J.B. Lawrence and Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce Director Charles Hardin, noted that if any local business earned the right for an exemption for a larger sign, it was the ski resort.

The study area under consideration includes the northern edge of the current town limits and the extraterritorial jurisdiction along U.S. 321. Properties along this stretch of road include Roots Restaurant and the former New River Inn, both of which are located within town limits, the satellite-annexed properties owned by Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, and the properties associated with the National Park Service and Blue Ridge Parkway. A memo from Planning Director Kevin Rothrock to the council noted that the remaining properties are zoned general business in the ETJ.

Prior to approving the Appalachian Ski Mtn. sign, members of the Blowing Rock Town Council noted concern about setting a “precedent” for bigger signs in an area that will see future development, especially as the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock comes online.

Councilwoman Sue Sweeting said that the council wanted to send the signage matter back to the Planning Board to, for one, “get a handle on that part of U.S. 321” in terms of what future development might look like with new businesses and its signage.

“Our concern is what else [aside from the ASM sign and visitors’ center] is going there in the future,” Sweeting said.

The council meeting starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14. See the entire agenda and meeting packet here.