Published On: Wed, Jul 16th, 2014

Recount shows RAD opponents need votes

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On Saturday morning, the Pocahontas County Commission will conduct a special meeting to determine the fate of a proposed resort area district (RAD) at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. A RAD is a public corporation, governed by a seven-member board, with powers similar to those of a municipality.

Opponents of the RAD are attempting to muster 471 votes, representing 25 percent of property owners within the proposed Snowshoe RAD, to block the process for one year.

During a special commission meeting on July 7, Snowshoe Mountain CEO Frank DeBerry told the commission that an unofficial vote count showed opponents with 521 votes – well over their threshold to stop the process. On Monday, DeBerry reported that opponents are still well under their target count.

“Contrary to the information we had on hand Monday, as of July 8th, there are only 382 received protest signatures (20 percent), not the 521 as had been tentatively reported last Monday,” DeBerry wrote in an email. “You may recall from Monday’s meeting that the threshold to demonstrate an effective protest is 471 signatures out of 1,884 individual property owners. I believe that the confusion came in owners who own multiple properties were accidentally counted as separate petition signatures, thus inflating the count. It wasn’t until I had a chance to look at the list that I knew of the error. As such, our petition request does remain very much alive and I do look forward to the next public meeting on the 19th.”

Snowshoe Mountain hired Alum Creek accountant Michael Griffith to collect and certify vote totals.

“Mr. Griffin will work with [Pocahontas County Prosecuting Attorney] Mr. Simmons to certify the results, and even these numbers should be considered unofficial until they’ve done so,” DeBerry added.

The West Virginia Legislature passed legislation authorizing creation of RADs last year. Snowshoe Mountain lobbied for the legislation and supports the creation of a RAD. As passed by the Legislature, the statute guarantees the corporation an initial majority of four board members, which will only change if drastic changes in property ownership occur at the resort.

Silver Creek resident David Litsey has actively opposed a Snowshoe RAD with a letter writing campaign to affected property owners. Litsey argues that portions of the RAD statute dealing with voting, indebtedness and existing contracts clearly violate the U.S. and West Virginia constitutions.

Litsey said the vote mix-up is an example of the RAD statute’s ambiguity.

“The law is vague and unclear, which leads to mischief,” he said.

Litsey said he is acquainted with Griffith and is confident the accountant will submit an accurate vote report.

The Pocahontas County Commission will meet on Saturday, July 19, at 10 a.m. to consider creation of a Snowshoe RAD. If opponents have 471 or more votes, the RAD process is blocked for one year. If opponents have less than 471 votes, the commission will act on Snowshoe Mountain’s RAD petition.

About the Author

- Geoff Hamill can be contacted at gshamill@pocahontastimes.com