By David Rogers. January 13, 2020. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Except for a recap of the 2020 Blowing Rock Town Council by Town Manager Shane Fox and a presentation by the Planning Director Kevin Rothrock on behalf of the ad hoc committee focused on “visioning” Valley Blvd., Tuesday’s regular January meeting of the Blowing Rock Board of Commissioners should prove rather brief. There are no public hearings and no schedule business matters other than the two presentations.
While the Town Council Retreat recap may be interesting for many who might attend the January meeting, a focal point may well evolve as the Ad Hoc “visioning” committee focused on Valley Blvd. The board packet (CLICK HERE to retrieve a copy online) includes a 75-page document prepared by Benchmark Planning of Charlotte, hired by Town Council at the recommendation of the Ad Hoc committee. At first glance, the document is at least a thorough inventory of the real estate parcels, building sited on them, and the businesses being operated.
The devil, of course, will be in the details.
Bound to emerge as future discussion items are what could emerge as controversial recommendations made by Benchmark. While there were two public workshops, evaluating the quality of public participation from various constituent interests affected by future Town Council decisions is subjective. On the surface, the two workshops at Town Hall were decently attended, but then again they were also held on October 15th and October 29th — then tail end of “the season” when a large segment of seasonal residents and even some business owners are leaving town. Consequently, the “accuracy” of public feedback as representative of all constituent interests may be called into question, however well-intentioned and designed the process.
Contradictions and vagaries in the Land Use Code have particularly come to the fore in recent years and Benchmark’s recommendations aimed at clarification of such ordinances is bound to be welcomed by many with an interest in the Town’s economic development. The devil, of course, will be in the details.
Editor’s Note: Blowing Rock News has been critical of the Ad Hoc Committee’s creation from the outset as, in our opinion, it would be more properly initiated under the purview of the Planning Board, if at all. The composition of the committee was also poorly conceived.
There is value in having an outside agency perform an inventory of the various properties along Valley Blvd., but to spend $20,000 of taxpayer money on information we already know or could just as easily have been made public via the Planning Department is wasteful. Some of Benchmark’s conclusions are obvious, and have already been suggested by others. Many of the recommendations are based on subjective findings gleaned from a relatively small dataset. FULL DISCLOSURE: we were on a previously scheduled, two-week vacation to the West Coast from October 14th to October 31st and unable to attend either of the workshops.