By David Rogers. August 12, 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — While the presentation of a new equestrian event to be hosted by the Broyhill Equestrian Preserve in September is bound to pique some early interest at Tuesday night’s (August 13th) meeting of the Blowing Rock Town Council, much of the Town’s business intrigue will be centered around one public hearing.
A group of property owners for five adjacent parcels along Valley Blvd., just north of Ridgeline Inn (and on the same side of the street), are requesting a conditional rezoning of their properties from R-15 (single family) to CZ-R-6M (multi-family with a short-term rental overlay district). The applicants are requesting the change specifically to allow for the short-term rental of the houses on their properties, according to documents included in the agenda packet. (http://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showdocument?id=8878)
The agenda packet includes relevant excerpts from the Town Code regarding residential rentals less than 28 days, as well as about short-term rental overlay districts.
The minutes for the June and July Planning Board meetings where this proposal was reportedly discussed are not yet available on the Town website, but Blowing Rock News was able to learn that the proposed rezoning application was approved by the Planning Board. However, we understand that approval was granted with a specific note that the recommendation was not intended to set any kind of precedent for development along Valley Blvd. or elsewhere in Town.
Because of the severe dropoff behind the houses that discourages development for quite some distance into Caldwell County, as well as a four-lane highway separating the subject residences from other residential neighborhoods, the Planning Board felt that the rezoning to allow short-term rentals would not pose a problem for anyone. Our source also emphasized that a well-advertised neighborhood meeting was held and there were no objections from neighbors about the proposed rezoning that would permit these houses from being rented for less than 28 days.
One Blowing Rock business owner speaking on condition of anonymity pointed out to Blowing Rock News, “If you read the materials, this group of property owners has been very thorough in preparing their case and, as it happens, this application underscores many of the changing demographic trends impacting economic development in the High Country, including Blowing Rock. One of the owners even states that their intention is to eventually retire to their house in Blowing Rock, but in the meantime they need — or at least want — supplemental income from the property to support or augment their retirement plans.”
The timing of this rezoning request also raises questions on two other fronts:
- What, if any, are the implications and impact of approval or disapproval of this rezoning application by the Board of Commissioners on the activities of the ad hoc committee formed earlier this year for considering development along Valley Blvd.?
- EDITOR’S NOTE: Blowing Rock News has previously penned an editorial about the ad hoc committee, describing it as unnecessary and ill-advised. CLICK HERE to revisit that editorial.
- What, if any, are the implications and impact of approval or disapproval of this rezoning application by the Board of Commissioners on a proposal advanced by certain Board members to do away with the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process and replace it wholly with a Conditional Zoning or Rezoning process?
- EDITOR’S NOTE: So that Blowing Rock residents and voters understand the difference between the two processes and the clear implications for the Town’s constituent interests as a result of any change, Blowing Rock News suggests that a position paper be drafted and published by Town staff so that everyone concerned understands the relevant issues, advantages, and disadvantages BEFORE the Board of Commissioners makes such a decision. Doing away with the CUP process just because one or more commissioners don’t like the restrictions it places on them regarding ex parte communications in a quasi-judicial process is not consistent with good government. What would the Town be giving up? Why was the CUP process established in the first place? Are there protections that a CUP process provides the Town regarding development vs. what is arguably a less stringent conditional zoning process?
In other business before Town Council, Finance Director Nicole Norman will provide Council members with a fiscal year-to-date financial report and other budgetary notes, followed by discussion by the Board of Commissioners centered on imposition of a three-hour parking limit to the south side of Park Ave.