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Blowing Rock Zoning Changes Fail in Town Council Vote This Week

By Nathan Ham

The Blowing Rock Town Council unanimously voted against possible zoning changes for the downtown area that were put forth by Blowing Rock Planning Director Kevin Rothrock.

Despite the recommendations from the planning department, public opposition to these zoning changes has grown as the special meeting date grew closer.

The Blowing Rock Civic Association was one of the biggest detractors of the zoning changes and sent a letter to the High Country Press that was published on January 15 to let people know what the proposed changes were and providing contact information for how citizens could share their opinions with elected officials. The changes included eliminating the density of residential units on downtown property, increasing the building height above the sidewalk from 30 feet to 35 feet, increasing the allowable total of building height and reducing the amount of green space required in a building setback area from 75 percent to 40 percent.

Following the meeting, the BRCA posted a statement on their website from organization president George T. Wilcox on Wednesday.

“I am pleased to report that major code changes proposed for downtown Blowing Rock development were defeated by a unanimous council vote. Council member Sue Sweeting made the motion to defeat these changes and included in it obtaining outside experts to assist in any future examination of town development codes,” Wilcox said. “One of the largest groups ever to attend a council meeting spoke out overwhelmingly against the changes. Mayor Pro Tem Albert Yount told council and the large audience that he had received over one hundred emails and letters and countless personal contacts against these changes. He said he had received more than twice the response he has received to any other issue since he has been on council.”

Wilcox added that presentations opposing the changes were made by BRCA members Marshall Sealey, Bill Carter and Brian Beaty.

“All made excellent presentations in opposition to the changes. Please join me in thanking these fine gentlemen for all of their hard on this very important matter. This hearing provided an excellent forum for a very good discussion of issues involving our downtown. The consensus was clearly that downtown Blowing Rock is a uniquely wonderful place that must be preserved by carefully managing change. Many thanks to all of you for your great support,” said Wilcox.

A message was left with the Blowing Rock Planning and Inspections Department on Friday afternoon seeking comment on where the town will go from here with any future zoning considerations.