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Originally published: 2012-10-10 12:54:20
Last modified: 2012-10-10 12:54:20

Zoning ordinance amendment opens possibility for incubator

Jamie Shell / (

Following a public hearing on the issue at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 8, Banner Elk Town Council moved to amend Section 922 of its zoning ordinance relating to incubators, allowing for existing and/or anchor businesses in an incubator in the Medical/Educational zoning district. 

The ordinance included an amendment to Section 200 of the ordinance, with a new definition for an incubator and the process to be qualified as such, in addition to definitions for a distressed business and an anchor business added. The amendment was presented to the council following a joint effort from town staff and planning board, with input and assistance from Avery County Economic Developer Bret Gardella.

Council also held a public hearing in reference to quick response (QR) codes on signs in the town. Following the hearing, council moved to accept the recommendation of the planning board by amending Section 602 of the zoning ordinance to allow for QR codes on a smooth, flat surface at no greater size than four inches by four inches.

In other news and notes:

• Sara Brewer, ABC store manager, presented to council the annual audit of High Country Municipal ABC Board. Brewer informed council that from 1998 to present, $2,697,502 in proceeds had been distributed to the towns of Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain and Banner Elk. Brewer added that ABC is supporting Roman Gabriel III and Sold Out Ministries, providing funding for assemblies in schools with messages that encourage students to abstain from using drugs and alcohol.

• Town Manager Rick Owen, as well as Woolly Worm Committee members Tom McMurray and Ray Knowles, addressed council regarding the future viability of the Banner Elk Woolly Worm Festival utilizing Tate-Evans Town Park and expansion facilities in future years to accommodate potential growth of the festival. All parties were in agreement that the most desired option is to see the festival enjoy a long and successful future in Banner Elk, and everyone agreed to continue to keep lines of communication open to further discuss finding the means to that end.

• Councilwoman Gail Draughon lauded Owen for receiving Lees-McRae College’s Distinguished Alumni Award during Homecoming weekend festivities last week.

• Council moved to accept M and M Construction’s bid of $128,300 for grading and site work for the town park expansion project, contingent on PARTF organization’s approval of an amended budget for the project. The motion was made after Owen and Derek Goddard with Blue Ridge Environmental P.A. informed council that there was roughly $75,000 difference in the initial estimate for the project and the actual cost projected to complete the expansion, and that Blue Ridge is willing to work with the town in cost-cutting measures to ensure the project is completed.

• Council moved to name Owen to Avery County’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan Committee. The committee is made up of members from around the county who will meet to work with NCDOT as it organizes a countywide transportation strategy.

• Council adopted an ordinance to install stop signs at intersections at Azalea Circle and Elementary Way. According to Police Chief Bill Burleson, the measure will help remedy a safety issue and lessen the potential for accidents at the location.

• Owen reported that Town of Banner Elk will man a booth at the upcoming Woolly Worm Festival in conjunction with Banner Elk Chamber. Owen reported there will be an ethics meeting at Banner Elk Town Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25.

• Council called for a public hearing at its November meeting to solicit citizen input regarding the renaming of Buena Vista Way to Lees-McRae Drive.

The November meeting of Banner Elk Town Council will take place at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12, at Banner Elk Town Hall.