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Originally published: 2014-02-22 16:48:16
Last modified: 2014-02-24 11:31:24

Scottish Inn project seeks reduced water fees

by Anna Oakes

The developer planning to tear down the Scottish and Red Carpet Inns on Blowing Rock Road and build a mixed-use project is seeking a sizeable water allocation from the town of Boone.

Jeffrey Wakeman of Stonegate Developers and The Standard at Boone LLC appeared before the Boone Town Council Thursday to request a water allocation of 97,879 gallons per day, calculated according to the town's water usage requirements.

According to the application, the project would include 176 student apartments with 587 bedrooms, a 5,000-square-foot lounge, a gym, a 200-seat restaurant, 2,400 square feet of retail space and a parking garage.

"We're very excited. We believe it's going to be a tremendous project for the town of Boone," Wakeman said.

To estimate the total gallons of water needed per day for a project, the town calculates usage at 60 percent of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources' discharge rates for various uses.

But Wakeman said even the town's estimate is too high when compared with similar projects developed by his company. An addendum to the developer's water application estimated that water usage would be 39,179 gallons per day.

Because mandatory water availability fees are based on estimated usage, the developer requested a reduction in the projected water usage or an increase in the credit applied to the projected usage.

When questioned by the developer's attorney, Jim Deal, Boone Public Utilities Director Rick Miller conceded that the majority of projects use less water than the town's projections.

But town attorney Sam Furgiuele said he believed that granting the developer's request would require a change in the town's ordinances.

The council continued consideration of the water request to its regular monthly meeting in March.

Efforts to redevelop the blighted property on one of Boone's primary corridors have been complicated and arduous.

The Scottish Inn has been shuttered and fenced off since spring 2012, when the Boone Town Council affirmed a building inspector's May 2011 condemnation order to vacate, repair or demolish the structures because of dilapidated conditions.

Boone Creek flows out in the open over half of the 4.4-acre project site and then is funneled through a pipe along the other half of the property. The pipe can clog or become overwhelmed with water during significant rain events.

To alleviate flooding issues, the developer proposes to redirect and daylight Boone Creek, which involves coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state agencies.

In addition to its water request, the developer will appear before the Boone Board of Adjustment to seek code variances and before the council to seek a conditional district rezoning of the property.