By Jesse Wood
July 4, 2014. The Blowing Rock Town Council will hold a public hearing on the final draft of the town’s comprehensive plan at its Tuesday, July 8, meeting.
During the public input meetings last fall, Blowing Rock Planning Director Kevin Rothrock said that this long-term plan, which is built upon the foundation of the 2004 comprehensive plan, would provide policy direction on what Blowing Rock will be like and how it will operate for the next 10 to 20 years.
This final draft is “intended to serve as both a physical and policy plan to guide the Town of Blowing Rock’s future decision making concerning land use and development, preservation of the natural environment, recreation and cultural resources, economic development, municipal services, transportation, and regional cooperation,” according to a general description of comprehensive plans by Benchmark, a Kannapolis-based firm contracted to assist in the creation of the plan.
On June 19, the Planning Board reviewed the final draft and recommended that the Blowing Rock Town Council approve of the updated plan in July.
Throughout the planning process and public input meetings, the following ten projects, which are not in any order, were identified as “the most important to undertake at the outset of the plan implementation process,” a memo from Rothrock to council states.
- Planning for Downtown Overhead Utility Relocation
- Middle Fork Greenway Extension
- Multi-use Path from Downtown to Bass Lake
- Valle Boulevard Gateway Enhancements
- Illustrated Architectural and Site Design Standards
- Complete Downtown Streetscape Project
- Continue Utility Facilities Plan Implementation
- Expand Culture/Arts Use of Town Facilities
- Develop Arts/Cultural Center on Park Avenue
- Middle Fork Greenway Completion
The focus areas of the plan include:
- Downtown (Main Street, Park Avenue, Sunset Drive, 7-acre Site)
- Hospital Property (Current and Future Site)
- Valley Boulevard
One of the hot topics during the public workshops was the placement of utility lines. This comes from the plan:
“A frequent topic of discussion during the workshops focused on how the overhead utility lines in the downtown area (primarily focused on Main Street and Sunset Drive) detract from the desired aesthetic character of the area. Several options, with varying degrees of financial impact, are available if the Town desires to make this type of aesthetic improvement. The most expensive option would be to bury the existing utility lines along Main Street. A lower cost option would be to relocate the utility lines to the rear of the downtown blocks, which would require the cooperation of property owners where alleys or other public rights-of-way do not exist. Utilizing other parallel route is a third option in the case of utility lines that are not directly serving downtown properties. In either case, whether burying or relocating the lines, this project would have a significant impact on the aesthetic quality of downtown Blowing Rock, but would require a significant investment, regardless of which option is chosen.”
Following the public hearing where citizens can make comments, the Blowing Rock Town Council will discuss and hold a vote on the adoption of the updated plan.
The plan can be viewed here. Below are some conceptual drawings of some of the plans in the plan.