BLOWING ROCK — The Blowing Rock Town Council supported additional funding for the Middle Fork Greenway and amended its solar panel policy at its Tuesday, Sept. 13 meeting.
To begin the meeting, the council approved a proclamation in support of Recovery Month.
Recovery Peer-Support Specialist at AppHealthCare Joey Matthews, Club 12 Officer Manager Eric Ellis and psychotherapist Mary McKinney presented the council with statistics regarding drug overdose and the effectiveness of harm reduction methods like Narcan. McKinney said that the stigma related to substance use disorder prevents some people from reaching out for help and that public recognition of the issue helps to break down the fear of talking about it.
After reading the statement proclaiming September as Recovery Month in Blowing Rock, Mayor Charles Sellers invited Planning Director Kevin Rothrock to discuss additional funding needed for the Middle Fork Greenway project.
The Middle Fork Greenway is funded 80% by municipalities and grants and 20 percent by the fundraising efforts of Blue Ridge Conservancy. The project team requested the council to approve for a $2.3 million grant through the Eastern Federal Lands Access Program and did not ask the town of Blowing Rock for additional municipal funds. The council approved this request.
Boone Area Chamber of Commerce President David Jackson then presented information about the chamber reaching an agreement with Watauga County to take over operation of the Economic Development Program.
Jackson said that though it is the Boone Chamber that will be housing the program, he wants to maintain and improve the involvement of town municipalities in the county. He said that the program will focus on outdoor economy, arts and culture, business and entrepreneur support and housing with representation from across the county.
The council selected Council Member Pier “Pete” Gherini to serve on the board due to his experience with economic development while working for the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce.
The council then voted to amend policy related to solar panels. Following a presentation from Collaborative Solar Founder and President Landon Pennington and Boone Sustainability Director George Santucci, the council voted to remove wording regarding the percentage of a roof solar panelling can occupy.
Solar panels are still required to compliment roof shape, material and color and require a zoning and special use permit. However, due to the environmental and aesthetic innovation in solar panels, language regarding the surface area of the panels was removed from the ordinance text.
After reviewing bids from Studio M and Take Heart, LLC, the council decided to accept further bid applications for a lease at the historic Icehouse. Criteria includes downtown compatibility and consistency of business operations. The council will revisit the topic at the October meeting.
To close out the meeting, the council approved a plan to extend the North West Sidewalk and reconstruct two culverts — one at the bottom of a driveway on Oak Street and one at the intersection of Oak Street and Goforth Road.