Last Updated on June 10, 2022 5:52 pm
Editor's Note – The following statement from the Watauga County Board of Commissioners is in response to Town of Boone's Press Release which can be viewed at this link.
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners issue the following statement regarding House Bill 193 and the Town of Boone’s Press Release dated June 8, 2022.
As a practical matter, the citizens of the Town are also citizens of the County, and we all work, recreate, conduct business, and/or own property in the Town of Boone. The County is always open to opportunities to build a collaborative relationship with the Town. The new 911 call center and consolidated communications operations is an example of how the County and Town’s collaboration improved emergency response to all citizens, while saving the Town taxpayers $330,000.00.
With respect to the parking project, the County has a responsibility to provide free parking for the general public visiting and doing business at the Courthouse and with governmental agencies (most of which are located in the Town). Meeting this need for acceptable parking is long overdue. The County requested assistance from our local legislators to be better positioned to complete the project in a timely manner and within its proposed budget. Prior to the bill being proposed, the County communicated to Town representatives that it has every intention of designing a structure that is consistent with the aesthetic guidelines established by the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), including the historic standards.
To provide some additional background and context, the use of the Queen/Water Street property (f/k/a the Turner Law Office) has been the subject of many misunderstandings and discord between the Town and County in recent years. When the County recently began preparing to submit its permit application(s), legal counsel discovered that there is language in the UDO and its Appendix that is arguably unenforceable and could be used to prevent the re-combining of multiple tracts of land that were originally and historically one tract. Legal counsel for the County felt confident it could overcome this legal issue in court but it could lead to costly litigation for both sides and a significant increase in construction costs due to the delay. The County has always intended to build a structure that is consistent with the spirit of the Town’s UDO, and the County is committed to working with the Town of Boone to honor the historic district standards. To that end, discussions have occurred and will continue with the Town to find collaborative approaches to this project.