Snowshoe President talks about RAD petition
Earlier this year, Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort submitted a proposal to the Pocahontas County Commission to establish a Resort Area District on top of the mountain.
Snowshoe Chief Operations Officer Frank DeBerry said the proposal is the culmination of two years of work. DeBerry said the current Mountain Top Assessment program doesn’t adequately cover the needs of the community.
“Essentially what we’ve been trying to do is find ways to better handle the infrastructure needs here, up at the resort,” explains DeBerry. “The program that’s currently in place doesn’t really keep up with the longer term needs. It was developed forty years ago, probably not with the greatest insight into the long term future, and it’s got some holes and some funding gaps.”
“It’s a situation where homeowners are legally bound by their deed to pay Snowshoe to provide services and Snowshoe is legally bound to use that money to provide services. So, the homeowners don’t really get any say whatsoever in how that money is spent, and it leads to a lot of animosity between the resort and the homeowner community.”
DeBerry said the RAD brings homeowners, commercial property and area business owners together and creates a Board of Directors.
“Snowshoe would seek over time, as we feel comfortable, and as that board starts to get its legs under it and feel more comfortable, seek to turn control for a lot of these community services like police protection, fire protection, transportation, roads maintenance, snow plowing, grounds maintenance for common areas, turn those types of services over to this organization and let the community run the community services.”
DeBerry said everyone involved stands to gain something from the RAD.
“It’s to benefit everybody,” DeBerry says. “It benefits Snowshoe. It benefits homeowners. I think increasing community engagement, and I can spend less time trying to defend what Snowshoe does with MTA funds and more time working together with the elected members of the council to get things done. The other benefit it does is it provides for the ability to protect everybody’s property values, and the better that these grounds are maintained, the better that is for Snowshoe. The other benefit to the homeowners is that they get representation. They get a seat at the table. They get a say in how funds are collected and spent.”
He said Pocahontas County commissioners have already gotten involved in the process.
“What they’ve signed off is the completeness of the petition,” he says. “By the statute, the first move they’re required to make, is to determine whether or not all the information that is legally required to be in a petition, is in that petition.“
According to DeBerry, there are no other existing RAD in West Virginia, though the concept has been applied elsewhere in the country.
“While it does exist in other states, we’ve used a lot of the rules and groundwork from those Resort Area Districts or Special Area Districts or Resort Improvement Districts or whatever they’re called, wherever they are, it would be something that’s new to West Virginia.”
DeBerry said there’s no hidden agenda with the Resort Area District petition.
“This is something that we have worked hard and long on,” he says. “I can truly say that there are no negative impacts to the community outside of Snowshoe. I know that there have been concerns that there’s some grand master scheme behind this, and there really isn’t. I came in a few years ago and fairly quickly noticed that the MTA system, both in its representation and in its funding was not working.”
Two public meetings are scheduled in July to discuss the RAD and everyone is encouraged to attend.
“And those meetings are going to be on July 7, at 5:30, and July 19, at 10 a.m. down at the courthouse,” says DeBerry. “The public notice will be placed in the paper and public notice will be posted at the courthouse, and around here and then it also gets mailed to every prospective member, so that they have plenty of opportunity to have their thoughts heard and also to hear more and learn more.”