Maggie Valley’s slow and steady decline as a tourist destination comes down to aesthetics, a consultant hired to assess Maggie Valley’s economic challenges told town leaders last week.
Maggie Valley’s appearance has declined and not kept up with the more sophisticated tastes of today’s tourists, according to his assessment.
The Maggie Valley Planning Board has eased requirements on a proposed set of design standards that would shape the town’s appearance in the long-term.
The board hopes to replace the haphazard look of the town with more earthy colors, natural materials, and other components of mountain-style architecture.
Most town aldermen expressed support for the proposal at a joint meeting with the planning board on Friday.
The proposed ordinance had formerly prohibited high-gloss finishes and fluorescent colors for building exteriors. Now, those who want to renovate or build a new structure are only “discouraged” from such choices. They would still need to gain the approval of the planning board, however, before moving forward with the review process.
While the planning board has been toiling for three years to come up with a set of acceptable standards, several business owners have raised concerns about the costs of adhering to the strict standards.
They worried that a mountain theme would mean more expensive construction costs, thereby hurting existing businesses and driving away potential business owners.
“I feel like we need to move forward with this, but you know, I want to see new businesses come in, too,” said Alderman Colin Edwards.
But the planning board repeatedly stressed that the standards would more likely help the town than hurt it by making Maggie more cohesive and eye-pleasing.
“I think having a standard design is more of an attraction than a detraction,” said planning board member Tom Benoit.
Alderman Scott Pauley said he is also in favor of having a mountain theme in Maggie Valley.
“As a business owner, I don’t feel threatened by the document,” said Pauley, who also owns Travelowes Motel. “I see it as a step forward to enhance our town.”
Other changes to the proposed standards include an increase of building height limitations from the town’s standard of 45 feet to 55 feet in flood areas.
The town has held a series of public meetings to help gain input from citizens about the ordinance.
Though the first public meeting attracted nearly 70 people, the second meeting was not well-attended. Town officials will launch a comprehensive effort to get more stakeholders involved and are contemplating sending out a mailing to all Maggie Valley business owners.
The next and final meeting will likely be held at the end of April. Attendees will get a chance to assume roles within the design review process to better understand how the document will come to life.
Mayor Roger McElroy, who also supports the standards, said he hopes the mountain theme will materialize at last.
“We’ve been talking about this for 20 years at least,” said McElroy. “I think it’s the time to do it.”