Friday, July 11, 2014


11 JULY 2014, Vol.1, No.62> PART IX – SNOWSHOE RAD: REJECTION…so far!

‘When the Righteous succeed the people rejoice,
But when the bad govern, men groan!’ – Proverbs 29:2
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Published On: Wed, Jul 9th, 2014 in THE POCAHONTAS TIMES, by Geoff Hamill

Opponents likely to block RAD proposal

Snowshoe property owner and employee Elisa Colpitt speaks during a Pocahontas County Commission meeting on Monday evening.  The public meeting was to hear comments about a proposed resort area district (RAD) at Snowshoe.  Colpitt said she supported a RAD because of needed public works improvements at the resort community.

During a special meeting of the Pocahontas County Commission on Monday afternoon, Snowshoe Mountain CEO Frank DeBerry said opponents of a proposed resort area district (RAD) appear to have enough signatures to block the creation of the quasi-municipality.

During the past two months, resort management has collected postcard votes on the RAD from Snowshoe property owners.  DeBerry said the last official count was two weeks ago.   “The last total, that I saw two weeks ago, that I had verified and validated, there were 238 petitions against, at the time, and about 185 petitions for,” he said.

DeBerry said much opposition had been generated by a letter campaign by Silver Creek resident and RAD opponent David Litsey.

“Several of the petitions against came from Mr. Litsey’s version of the signatory card that he distributed,” said DeBerry.  “I certainly believe the statements that Mr. Litsey made to be incredible at best and malicious at worst.”

Snowshoe Mountain submitted a petition to create a RAD to the County Commission on March 18. Under the state law authorizing the creation of RADs, passed last year, county commissions have the power to approve or disapprove RAD petitions.  However, if 25 percent of property owners within a proposed district oppose the RAD, the petition dies and cannot be re-submitted for one year.

According to DeBerry, the latest unofficial count puts opponents over their threshold.
“The unofficial count, that I received this afternoon from the auditor, is that we have 521 signatures against,” he said. “The threshold of 25 percent is 471, therefore, the unofficial count is that we may have enough petition signatures against the RAD that it can’t move forward.”

During the meeting, eight Snowshoe property owners spoke against the RAD; two spoke in favor of the RAD; and one said she is undecided.

Bill McHenry said he holds a master’s degree in public policy and a doctorate degree in organizational planning.  McHenry said the Legislature passed the RAD legislation without input from property owners.

“This piece of legislation was introduced at the state level, crafted without any input from the homeowners,” he said. “It was done by a corporation, a for-profit corporation.”

McHenry said research had proven that a RAD would not benefit homeowners.
“There’s a foundation of academically-sound, peer reviewed knowledge that tells us that special tax districts are not good for homeowners,” he said. They are good for corporations.”

With deed conditions, Snowshoe Mountain currently collects an assessment from property owners known as the Mountain Top Assessment, or MTA.  The annual MTA cannot exceed 1.5 percent of the property value.

Ed Grunwald said he opposes the RAD because it would be “a new level of taxation.”  Grunwald said his property value had decreased in recent years, while his MTA had increased.

Dave Dragan said he supports the RAD because “the MTA system is broken.” Dragan said property owners have a vested interest in the success of Snowshoe Mountain.  “Homeowners have zero without Snowshoe being a success,” he said.

Camp Four condominium association president Don Miller said he opposes the RAD because there is an insufficient level of trust between homeowners and resort management.  Miller said he spent years and thousands of dollars fighting management to make repairs at Camp Four.
Snowshoe property owner and employee Elisa Colpitt said she supports the RAD because it would help improve roads and other infrastructure at the resort.

Former House of Delegates Member Julia Elbon opposed the RAD petition on several points. She said Snowshoe Mountain’s parent company, Intrawest, had pushed RAD legislation through the Legislature with little concern for its constitutionality“This legislation was prepared by Intrawest for their purpose of raising money on the assets of property owners at Snowshoe, without giving the property owners equal protection of the law or protection entitled to by purchase contracts,” she said.

Katherine Long said she is still undecided, but was concerned that the RAD could be a burden on property owners.  Long compared a RAD to a tourniquet.  “The tourniquet aspect of it is, we are potentially signing onto something that we’re not allowed to take off,” she said. “Once it goes on, it stays on.”

Litsey said the RAD enabling legislation violates the state constitution by allowing unlimited RAD indebtedness, by allowing only property owners to vote for representatives, and by interfering with existing contracts.

Sam Gibson said he opposes the RAD petition because resort guests would end up paying more for visits and vacations.  Gibson said Snowshoe Mountain and Intrawest should have planned better for development and should fund their own repairs.

Norman Melton said he opposes the RAD because, with the construction of a new Snowshoe sewage plant, homeowners will be paying very high rates and could not bear the additional financial burden of RAD assessments.

The County Commission will hold a final public meeting on Saturday, July 19 at 10 a.m. DeBerry said he would provide a verified vote count at that time.  If the official count shows at least 471 property owners opposed to the RAD, the commission can take no action.  If the opposition count is less than 471, the Commission will consider and act on the RAD petition.
If a RAD is created, it becomes a public corporation, governed by a seven-member board. 

Residential property owners would elect three board members; resort management would appoint two representatives; commercial business property owners would elect one representative; and unimproved property owners would elect one representative.  Under that framework and with current ownership, Snowshoe Mountain is guaranteed a majority of four board members.

The RAD would have power to collect retail resort service fees up to five percent. Although not authorized to collect property taxes, the RAD would have power to collect property value-based assessments for public infrastructure and public safety projects. The RAD would have the power to create and operate a police force, known as “resort area rangers.”  (Italics & Underline emphasis).

Those of us at The Pocahontas Crier, think we can all be grateful that enough homeowners at Snowshoe & Silver Creek have thus far OPPOSED hanging a huge-Albatross around their necks and placing themselves in a ‘no-win’ situation!  IF a RAD goes into effect, and an ‘assessment fee’ is implemented for any kind of ‘project(s)’collateralized by the monetization of the EQUITY VALUE of all improved-property, i.e., the estimated property value between the ‘assessed value’ for property-tax purposes by the County Assessor, and the ‘fair-market value’ of the actual property if put up for sale – then WHO would wish to purchase any type of property at Snowshoe/Silver Creek – when there is no limit on the INDEBTEDNESS that the RAD can create?  Any given property would be ‘indentured’ when sold or purchased at any given time – and once a debt is created requiring an ‘assessment fee’, it could become perpetual for as long as the RAD needed ‘projects’, etc.! 

And IF carried out to its worse-case-scenario, once all RAD ‘service fees’, ‘assessment fees’, and all other expenses, taxes & such are taken into consideration to the point of becoming overly burdensome – then the only willing purchaser would most likely be Snowshoe Mountain, Inc. (SMI) – at a substantial discount no less to ‘just take the property off your hands’!  In short, you can give away the overpriced & overburdened property with all its old & new ‘expenses’, to get out from under it…so that SMI can then increase its rental & equity profits for all property directly owned by them without a private-homeowner in between!    

These issues & others were all raised in the recent Primary Election by county commission candidates Patricia A. Heinemann (Dem-ND) and Norman Lee Alderman (Rep-SD) – and while Patricia lost in her four-way primary race, Norman Lee Alderman is still an active candidate for the General Election on 04 November 2014!  Now IF both Norman Lee Alderman (Rep-SD) and Charles Wilfong (Rep-ND) should WIN in the General Election and both become new county commissioners in January 2015 – THEN PERHAPS the following scenario can still become a reality!

IMAGINE IF THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA REVOKED THE CORPORATE CHARTER OF INTRAWESTpursuant to the $1.5 BILLION DEBT as a result of the failed 2010 Winter Olympics and Snowshoe / Silver Creek & SMI were taken over by a WORKERS COOP whereby 60% of the profits went to the State of West Virginia, and 40% of the profits went to the Workers Coop and for this county?  After all IT’S THE WORKERS on the Mountain that keep SMI afloat on a day-to-day basis – and a WORKERS COOP would more than double or triple the average worker’s salary!  IF SO, then a new MIDDLE CLASS could be created in this county to END the ‘POVERTY PRESERVATION SOCIETY’ once and for all time!

NORMAN LEE ALDERMAN (Rep-SD) is a professional having been a school teacher, an IT Specialist, a former county commissioner, and currently a journalist operating an Internet Blog known as ‘The Pocahontas Commentator Plus’ @ !

CHARLES WILFONG (Rep-ND) is also a professional operating the largest livestock farm within the county, in addition to holding almost every office – including that of president – of the West Virginia State Farmers Association, thus he knows how to work within the entire infrastructure of the Charleston political tapestry within the State Legislature! 

IF THE NEW COUNTY COMMISSION in January 2015 started out with these two new county commissioners then IT’S POSSIBLE that Snowshoe / Silver Creek & SMI under a WORKERS COOP could indeed become fully profitable WITHOUT ANY INDEBTEDNESS OF ANY KIND for the mutual benefit of all concerned!  

It also means that a new Pure Water COOP could be established to create many new jobs collecting, processing, bottling, and selling PURE BOTTLED WATER all around the world providing a steady INCOME for every landowner with NATURAL SPRING WATER on their property!


On 04 NOVEMBER…there’s no excuse…

Just say ‘NO’ to those who want to keep this county in Poverty & Pauperism
– and –
Just say ‘YES’ to real Progress & Prosperity for the future!

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