Chimney Rock Village lowers property tax rate to 11 cents in new budget

We are in the heart of the summer tourism season and the Village is extremely busy. Over the last 15 -20 years a lot of things have happened to put the Village, Lake Lure, and the whole Hickory Nut Gorge on the map and people are finding us.
From the new state park to the explosion of conservation lands and hiking trails to the riverwalk to the Village voting in liquor by the drink; all of this is gelling and slowly changing the Village. The Village council recognizes this and is planning and working hard to manage this change. We all know that change is inevitable. You can’t stop it, but you can plan for it and try to direct it to the best advantage.
For example, when I first moved to Chimney Rock Village over 30 years ago there was no public land in the Gorge. You could not access the river and all points of interest (Worlds Edge, Youngs mountain, Party Rock, Eagle rock, Florence Nature Preserve, Bearwallow Mountain, etc) were on private property and off limits. I was amazed that this beautiful little Gorge seemed so unknown. Well, that is changing fast.
I had an Asheville hiker in my store (Bubba O’Leary’s General Store) tell me that Hickory Nut Gorge was going to become “the hiking mecca of western NC”. The state of NC recognizes the potential as they designated the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail in 2017. This will be a system of trails throughout the Gorge providing access, recreation, camping, and related tourism business.
I think this is the best way to protect our Gorge and share it with the many visitors and tourists who want to experience the beauty that surrounds us. We can affect the change and make it work for us. The visitors like it, it’s good for business, and we get to live here and enjoy it every day.
In Village Council news we are continuing to review and work on the upcoming implementation of the next phase of the streetscape. This will be going out to bid this fall with a start work date of Nov – Dec 2023. The sewer project is also ready to go but we are waiting on funding.
The Village passed the 2023/24 budget at our June 20, 2023 meeting. The tax rate was lowered to 11 cents per hundred and the Municipal Service District (MSD) was lowered to 18 cents per hundred.
In addition to the streetscape and sewer projects the Village has budgeted to buy some bear proof trash cans for our public areas and add a parking gate to the West end parking lot next to the Best View Motel.
As I look around the Village, I see some changes with several businesses. The Christmas Cottage is a new business open in the old Elliott’s Grocery building (formerly Heavenly Hoggs) on the corner of Main Street and Southside Drive. It is a Christmas themed store run by Don Hastings and Frank Plichta. They also operate Willow Creek across the street from Bubba’s.
The “Under the Rock” Shop has been open almost 2 years but just underwent some renovations. It is next to April’s Boutique and is run by April’s son, Vinny Sottile. He offers an eclectic mix of merchandise including fudge, t shirts, knives, and gifts.
The RiverWatch Grill just celebrated their 25th year of business. It is being operated by the 2nd generation of the Banz family and was recently voted the #1 restaurant in the Village. They offer a wide variety of ½ pound burgers and beers and also have live music every Friday night from 5-8pm. The family also operates the Chimney Rock Gemstone Mine and the Sacred Chakra metaphysical shop.
The Chimney Rock Village Council meets the third Tuesday of every month at 7:30 pm in the Chimney Rock Volunteer Fire Department building. Our next meeting is Tuesday August 15. Please contact Peter O’Leary 828-545-1243 or Steve Duncan 828-777-5718 if you have any questions or concerns.

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