Snowshoe Mountain Resort’s RAD Petition Survives Property Owner’s Referendum
Frank DeBerry, President and Chief Operating Officer of Snowshoe Mountain Resort made an initial presentation to the Commission. Here is a portion of his presentation.
“We made several adjustments to the petition this time around” said DeBerry. “As you know, we had over 40 people who attended those meetings sign on as petitioners this time, not just Snowshoe unilaterally. And we can show that well over a majority of homeowners are in support this time. I know last time around it was hard to say for sure whether or not most homeowners were in support of this petition. I hope we’ve answered the key questions (and) addressed the key issues.”
About 40 citizens, mostly residents of the RAD District attended the meeting. Most of those who chose to speak out at the meeting were in favor of creation of the RAD. Here is a portion on Harry Gillum’s remarks in favor of approval of the RAD Petition.
“I am a homeowner at Snowshoe” said Gillum. “I am a resident of West Virginia from the Clarksburg-Bridgeport area. I’m a business owner in the State of West Virginia, operate two retail stores. I have about 35 employees. I pay a lot of taxes. It takes taxes to make something operate. The RAD is a working mechanism that does give the homeowner s the ability to vote. I think it is a well written petition. I am in favor of the RAD 100%.”
Robert Trout, a Pocahontas County and Snowshoe resident also spoke up in support of the RAD because it allows the homeowners to have a say in making Snowshoe a better place. Another homeowner at Snowshoe, whose permanent home is in Charleston, expressed his opposition to it because the RAD could result in an additional property tax being levied against his property. Another resident opposed it because the RAD would be allowed to incur debt and he is concerned about what would happen to that debt if the RAD was later dissolved. Barry Barazzone opposed it because only homeowners, not the full time renters who live at Snowshoe would be able to vote on RAD related matters. Rick Bond, a RAD property owner from South Carolina responded to that by saying that homeowners would have no say about what happens to their property if renters instead of homeowners were allowed to vote on RAD decisions.
David Litsey, another property owner in the RAD District, alleges that the RAD is unconstitutional under the one person/ one vote provision of the 14th Amendment and it also violates the West Virginia Constitution. Litsey said that the Commission should seek an opinion from the WV Attorney General about the constitutionality of the RAD law before making a decision to support it. Here is a small portion of Commission Attorney Martin’s response to that.
“We don’t always agree with what the Legislature does, but as a political subdivision, the Commission’s job was to accept the petition and follow the procedure set out in West Virginia Code” said Martin. That is exactly what the Commission has done. Every step up this ladder, we have dotted every “T” and dotted every “I”, and that’s all we can do. And you very well may be right that the Supreme Court may reverse this. But I guarantee you, there will be no finding that the Commission missed one step in the process.”
The Commission officially found that 25% or more of the landowners in the proposed RAD district did NOT oppose the RAD. Of the 1862 selection documents mailed out, 1500 were returned with only 187 marked as being opposed to the creation of the RAD. Under the Statute, the petitioners now have 30 days to withdraw their petition if they want to, then if they do not withdraw it, the Commission will vote to approve or disapprove of the RAD petition at their December 5th, 2017 meeting.