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Blowing Rock Board Approves Annexation of Blowing Rock Conference Center, Denies Adding Carriage Ride Service for Downtown

Blowing Rock Town Planner Kevin Rothrock explains proposed changes to the town’s land use ordinance. Photo by Ron Fitzwater.

By Ron Fitzwater

Mar. 16, 2012. BLOWING ROCK — The Blowing Rock Town Council met in regular session on March 13 with several business items on the agenda. Following the opening of the meeting and approval of the previous meeting’s minutes the council commenced with three scheduled public hearings.

The first hearing was on the matter annexing the Blowing Rock Conference Center.

The center, which is located in the town’s Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) is in need of hooking into the town’s sewer system and thus needs to be annexed before the connections could be made. Future connection to the town water system may be desirable but according to Blowing Rock town planner Kevin Rothrock, “at this time, the convention center has sufficient well and water supply to serve their property and all the buildings they maintain, so there is no need for public water assistance.”

Benefits to the center will include access to town services and better sewer management. For the town it will be a small source of revenue from the sewer service and future revenue from water service. Additionally, the town will have the right to erect a new water tower in the center’s property that will assist in meeting water needs from expected growth.

Few concerns were raised over the annexation; from the commissioners, came concerns over the need to move ahead with water service for the purposes of fire safety, as there are no hydrants on the property and no source for them. Rothrock explained that part of the fire safety protocols at the center include using a 50,000 swimming pool as a source of water for firefighters should the need arise. From residents came concerns that discussion over erecting a water tower on the property would affect residential views. Rothrock explained that no tower was planned and that if in the future one were to be discussed, that it’s placement would not affect residents in any aesthetic way. After closing the hearing the board voted unanimously to approve the annexation.

The next hearing dealt with amendments to the town’s land use ordinance. At issue was the need to clean-up the ordinance that has been undergoing changes since 2007. The textual changes will according to Rothrtock make the ordinance easier to understand and work within for both town planners and contractors/builders. After closing the public hearing the board unanimously voted to approve the changes. The reworked ordinance will soon be available for public view.

The final public hearing was held to amend the town’s golf cart use ordinance to permit additional areas of town to be accessible by golf cart. Following the hearing the board voted unanimously to approve changes to the existing ordinance to permit golf carts to be driven on all town roads except Valley Boulevard (U.S. Highway 321). The ordinance also requires all golf carts driven on town roads must be operated by a licensed driver, be equipped with headlights and additional safety features to ensure safe operation and only be driven during daylight hours.

Additional business included:

  • Approval of a request to locate the town chamber of commerce’s Fresh Market near the corner of Park Avenue and Main Street. The Market will operate on Thursday’s from 3 to 6 p.m. from May to October. Only slight resistance was met for the location based on the inconvenience some town citizens felt would result from restricting access to residential structures.
  • Denial of a request by Southern Breezes Carriages to begin a trial run of carriage rides through downtown. Although it was seen by some as a draw for tourists, it was determined that due to the unknown impact of traffic detours and economic impact related to the U.S. Highway 321 widening project, the time was not right to begin such an undertaking.
  • Tabling of a request begin site upgrades to Memorial Park until such time as a comprehensive plan for improvements could be created.