Snowshoe Representative Briefs Pocahontas County Commission on the Status of the RAD and is met with Tough Questions from the Commissioners.
At the June 16 Pocahontas County Commission Meeting Frank DeBerry of Snowshoe Mountain Resort, Inc. briefed the Commission about the current status of the Snowshoe Resort Area District, commonly referred to as simply the “RAD.”
DeBerry explained that the RAD Petition was first submitted to the Commission for consideration on March 18, 2014. On April 15, 2014 the Commission designated the petition as “complete” A public meeting was required and Snowshoe actually held 2 public meetings in July and 1 in August, 2014. Snowshoe modified its RAD Petition as a result of Commission and public concerns.
- Agreed to adding language to the petition that the RAD not impose any Special Assessments for 3 years
- Snowshoe added language to the petition clarifying that the RAD would be responsible for collecting the Assessment, not the County.
- Added language to the proposal that all occupancy taxes would continue to go to the County not to the Rad.
- Amended the boundaries of the RAD to remove the communities of Silver Mountain and Sunrise because of Deeded promises that those landowners no have to contribute to infrastructure costs.
On August 19, 2014, the Commission refused to pass the petition.
The WV Legislature has since amended the RAD legislation. The law now:
- Added a method to dissolve the RAD if it was no longer acting in the interests of the community
- Allowed homeowners to nominate members for the RAD Board.
- Allowed elections to the Board to be determined by a majority of the vote, not a plurality – which would eliminate runoff elections.
- Capped Special Assessments to 5% of the value of the property.
- Required 51% of homeowners to approve any Special Assessment.
Snowshoe also has added to their most recent proposal that anytime Snowshoe controls both the Commercial Board Seat and the Unapproved Property Board Seat, they would defer the vote of one of those seats to the 4th highest homeowner vote getter in the election, thus guaranteeing homeowners at least four of the seven Board seats.
Commission President Beard asked for a clarification about whether the RAD would designate improvement projects and fund them, or would Snowshoe designate projects which the RAD would fund.
“The way the statute is developed is that ANY property owner can approach the Board and request a project” said DeBerry. “So Snowshoe could do that, but so could any of the 1800 homeowners on the Mountain.”
In response to questions about whether the RAD or Snowshoe would be responsible for Security and things like Snow Removal, DeBerry said Snowshoe would continue these services and Shuttle Services through the existing Mountaintop Assessment Program unless the RAD Board voted to take them on, which would be unlikely. The RAD’s Resort Service Fees would be more likely to pay for road paving, shuttle stop improvement and grounds improvements.
Commission President Beard asked DeBerry why the Commission was not asked to be involved in amending the RAD legislation. DeBerry responded.
“Well…Alright….I guess I will apologize for that, I will tell you that it was a very quick…Bill Hartman called and he said ….get me something within 36 hours and I can get it on the floor” said DeBerry.
Commission President Beard asked an important question about RAD that and he felt the citizens should hear DeBerry’s answer.
“Can you explain to me why RAD is not dead after the Commission voted against it at a meeting back in the summer (2014)?” Beard asked.
“Again, I sought legal opinions by a number of people to find out is it was dead” replied DeBerry. “The opinions I had were that a motion to adopt an order to accept the RAD was not passed, but at no time did the Commission reject our petition.”
“That’s kind of my opinion but I wanted you to explain to the group here and whoever is listening elsewhere” Beard added.
Questions were raised because since the petition has been amended after being voted on by Snowshoe homeowners, doesn’t it need to be voted on again, especially since there are 60-90 new homeowners at Snowshoe since that election. DeBerry said since the amendments only strengthen the homeowner’s position in the rad and since it was the Commission that delayed things, that no it does not need to be voted on again as that would be “unreasonable”.
Commission President Beard asked another important question of DeBerry.
“Maybe its hitting too bluntly or not, but I would like to ask this question also” said Beard. “Is it truly legal to set up a government entity that will fund a private business? “
I’ll answer that in a couple of parts” replied DeBerry. “First of all it doesn’t fund a private business. It funds a home owner community, a property owner community of which our business (Snowshoe) is one and the largest property owner. As I mentioned before, the District (RAD) cannot be used to support revenue generating functions of Snowshoe”
DeBerry also noted that the WV State Legislature had no problem with the RAD in that regard.
Another question from Beard to DeBerry was whether Snowshoe has threatened its employees to support the rad – which DeBerry said he has no knowledge of that ever happening and would not tolerate it.
The Commissioners said that they have received numerous communications from Snowshoe homeowners concerned that if the RAD passes they will be driven from their homes by increased assessments and fees. DeBerry Responded.
“This is the first opportunity I have to do something for the community without costing the homeowner more money” said DeBerry. “I’m finding other sources of revenue dedicated to protecting their property without charging the homeowner more. If there is no RAD, I promise you homeowners will pay more than the Mountaintop Assessment because I have no alternative.”
Finally, Commission Attorney Bob Martin explained that the RAD discussion on this meeting’s agenda was simply so the Commissioners to learn where the process stands and they will decide in the future if they need to take up consideration of the RAD petition again.