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LETTERS / Hey Blowing Rock, What Are You Thinking?

The same people who petitioned to build the gateway to Blowing Rock by improving Highway 321 to bring millions of tourist and visitors to the Rock then opposed the construction of the road because some of the businesses were displaced and the four-lane highway destroyed the quaint character of the mountain town. The same people have united to form Concerned Citizens of Blowing Rock, LLC. to oppose construction of:

The Mountainleaf development proposed by the Catellus Group of Charlotte for a 7.3 acres property on Main Street next to Chetola Resort includes a 112 room hotel, 250 seat conference center, and twenty, primarily one bedroom condominiums, over 26,000 square feet of retail space.

The development was approved by a split council vote over the strenuous objections of a number of Blowing Rock community leaders and citizens. Concerned Citizens of Blowing Rock, LLC, issued the following statement:

“Our continuing concerns are:

  • The possibility of serious wrecks and traffic jams due to exceptionally high traffic generated by the development on Main and Hill Streets. No traffic study has been done for this development by the developer or the Town.
  • Safety problems due to fires. No study has been done by the developer or the Town on fire safety for this development.
  • The negative impact on nearby residential property values. No study has been done by the developer or the Town on this issue.
  • Potentially negative impact on the character of downtown and the viability of downtown businesses. No study has been done by the developer or the Town on these important considerations.
  • Inadequate parking. No study was done by the developer or the Town on this critically important matter though the developer was enabled to eliminate thirteen required parking spaces.
  • Extraordinary runoff that could flood Main Street. A more detailed study would be useful on this very important issue.
    • The presence of a 55’ high building in the project that can set a bad precedent for the “Village Character” of Blowing Rock.”

These people who have actively petitioned and were the planners for the greater good of Blowing Rock must have failed to plan that with the bigger road and more access that more people might discover the location. (That was their sale angle 30 years ago) Now that someone is planning to accommodate the visitors with adequate overnight facilities and a conference center people are opposed because it would create a traffic problem or change the appearance of the town.

Once visitors reach Watauga County and see the “Big Highway” which has replaced the crooked road that used to be the main highway the Blowing Rock scenery is identical as what they just left in their hometown. The new landscape is concrete retaining walls, never ending orange barrels and mini parking lots that have been overridden by DOT right of way.

Is it that the plans and needs of 30 years ago have changed or that planners are never happy with their plan.  The road will be completed and people will come (once) see the improvements and return to their homes in Charlotte or Raleigh down 421 and never know they have visited Blowing Rock.  So much for planning and the gigantic impact of tourism a one-time visit by travelers who did not realize when they arrived.  Once you demolish the attraction no one is willing to buy a ticket to see the bronze marker that described what used to be here.  For example: P.B. Scott’s Music Hall used to be located here, this unique dome structure was venue for some of the greatest musicians of all time and was closed by the town and community due to parking restriction, negative impact to the community, possible safety problems, building characteristics.

Blowing Rock and community will get exactly what is coming to them a review in a national travel magazine with the title:

Blowing Rock, North Carolina WTF…… Were they thinking?

Jacob Andrews

P.S. Here are a couple links…