Key issues slated to get attention of Blowing Rock Town Council in Asheville retreat

Key issues slated to get attention of Blowing Rock Town Council in Asheville retreat
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By David Rogers. January 13, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC – Short-term rentals and a software management solution of short-term rentals will kickoff the annual Blowing Rock Town Council retreat, beginning Sunday, January 14, 2018, at 1:00 pm, running through scheduled adjournment at noon on Tuesday.  The retreat, while open to the public, is being staged at the DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore, at 115 Hendersonville Road, Asheville, NC 28803.  The hotel phone number is 828-274-1800.

The retreat agenda was published on Friday afternoon. Although some time has been allocated for logistical matters for conducting the meeting, here is our best summary for what will be discussed each day. We have inserted editorial notes where applicable.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

  • Short Term Rental Helper Software — Discussion gleaned from previous meeting minutes from the Tourism Development Authority is that the software would be a big help in managing owner compliance with Blowing Rock’s short-term rental regulations.  With the advent of online platforms such as AirBnB and VRBO, policing has been made more difficult. Blowing Rock News has done modest research on the software, which was developed by town officials in Garden City, Utah.  STR Helper’s website advertises that since their system has been put in place, compliance rates now approach 95%, gross tax revenue is up 52%, and complaint calls are down 85%.  In researching further in the municipal codes of Garden City, UT, the town requires every homeowner intending to rent short-term (which they define as less than 30 days) to apply for and obtain a license to rent short-term.  Failure to obtain a license results in civil fines by the city and where rental activity is conducted without a license, a license cannot be obtained for 24 months.  The current fine for operation of a short-term rental with a Garden City license is $750 per day.  Other fines are listed, too, including parking off premise or in excess of allowed ($150 per vehicle).  Our research of Garden City shows there is a similarity to Blowing Rock in that there is a large influx of seasonal residents (700 full-time to over 20,000 by July, according to the STR Helper website), but one major difference is that the mountain-based Utah town is served by only three small hotels.
  • Short-Term Rental Conversation/Example among members of the Board of Commissioners, Mayor and (presumably) selected staff members immediately follows the software presentation.
  • Candidates for open and expired Board seats for Board of Adjustment, Planning Board, Blowing Rock Appearance Advisory Commission, Alcoholic Beverage Control, and Tourism Development Authority
  • Council meeting agenda process
  • Economic Development Director — Shared with Chamber — Discussion
  • Adjourn @ 5:00 pm

MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2018, 8:00 AM

  • Planning and Inspections
    • Comprehensive Plan
    • Moody building
    • Three entrances to town
    • Trash cans
    • Sunset Drive “Streetscape” – What is next
    • Chestnut Development project
    • Morningside project
    • 2017 permit recap
  • Tax Revenue from new projects, including the Chestnut Drive development, the hotel/inn on North Main Street, possible townhouses on Morningside Drive, and the planned use of additional revenue
  • Public Records and Sunshine Laws
  • Mayor and Council Statutory Roles
  • Memorial Tree/Memorial Bench Draft Policy and discussion
  • Automated Meter Infrastructure update
  • Doug Chapman, McGill Engineering
    • Phase 1 Bond progress
    • Phase 2 Bond schedule
    • Water Treatment Plant
    • Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)
    • Village Drive
    • Road paving
    • Sidewalk to Bass Lake
    • Sourwood Lane Water Line
  • Chestnut Circle and Laurel Park Sewer Feasibility-Preliminary information
  • Watauga County Veterans Memorial – George Brudzinski
  • Traffic
    • Speed and parking data
    • Needs
    • Enforcement
    • Neighborhood “We love our children” signs
  • Public Works
    • Report on Stockpile yard
    • White line stripe-ing
  • Ducks and Swans
  • Adjourn @ 5:00 pm

TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2018, 8:00 AM

  • Miscellaneous Topics
    • Employee education
    • Pickleball courts
    • Extending WiFi
    • Old Fire Station Update
    • Laurel Lane Closure
    • Chetola-Salt
    • Police-Entrusted with keys for school gym and citizen houses
    • Underground electric for Sunset Dr. and Main St.
    • Virginia Tech Conceptual Plan
    • Request for meeting space
  • Glen Burney Trail
  • Shuttle and Public Transportation for Blowing Rock
  • Blowing Rock Pedestrian and Cyclist Audit
  • Tactical plan for 2018-19
  • Closed session to discuss performance of Town Manager
  • Adjourn closed session and return to open session
  • Adjourn Retreat @ 12:00 noon

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