[caption id="attachment_4555" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2014\/07\/GH_RADMeeting.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-4555" src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2014\/07\/GH_RADMeeting.jpg" alt="OPPONENTS OF THE proposed resort area district for Snowshoe and Silver Creek resorts fell short of the number of votes needed to delay the process. Twenty-five percent or 458 votes would have delayed it for a year. The final count was 443, just 15 votes shy of reaching their objective. The county commission will act on the RAD petition at its August 19 meeting. G. Hamill photo" width="600" height="400" \/><\/a> OPPONENTS OF THE proposed resort area district for Snowshoe and Silver Creek resorts fell short of the number of votes needed to delay the process. Twenty-five percent or 458 votes would have delayed it for a year. The final count was 443, just 15 votes shy of reaching their objective. The county commission will act on the RAD petition at its August 19 meeting. G. Hamill photo[\/caption]\r\n\r\nThe Pocahontas County Commission held a special meeting Saturday morning to count votes from Snowshoe property owners on a proposed resort area district (RAD), which would encompass Snowshoe Mountain and Silver Creek resorts. RAD opponents hoped to muster 458 votes against the proposal - representing 25 percent of qualified voters - to block the process for one year. But the final tally showed just 443 votes (24.2 percent) from RAD opponents, allowing the commission to move forward with approval or disapproval of the new district.\r\n\r\nSnowshoe Mountain, Inc., filed a petition with the commission to create a RAD on April 15. The corporation mailed signature cards to all property owners in the proposed district, requesting their vote on the issue. Only property owners inside the proposed district were allowed to vote. The corporation hired Certified Public Accountant Michael Griffith to collect and certify ballots from property owners. Griffith reported approximately 200 votes in favor of the RAD, although \u201cyes\u201d votes are irrelevant in the RAD petition process.\r\n\r\nThe commission agreed to consider and act on the RAD petition during its meeting on August 19 at 5:30 p.m.\r\n\r\nDuring a public comment period, 10 affected property owners spoke against the RAD and two spoke in favor of the RAD.\r\n\r\nDavid Litsey, who waged a letter-writing campaign against the RAD, said RAD provisions dealing with voting, indebtedness, and existing contracts violate the West Virginia and U.S. constitutions. Litsey noted that several property owners had not been notified of the vote, and that the law requires notification of all owners.\r\n\r\nGriffith confirmed that he had been unable to contact 42 of the 1,829 qualified voters.\r\n\r\nMike Pancione said Snowshoe CEO Frank DeBerry had been very cooperative during preliminary planning, but that he opposes a RAD for two reasons. Pancione said the RAD should be divided into three districts to provide equal representation on the governing board, and that the RAD charter should include a dissolution clause.\r\n\r\nNeal Rehberg said he voted against the RAD because of concerns that corporation management would have too much power. Rehberg said the RAD could be a \u201cwin-win\u201d for the corporation and property owners if better checks and balances are incorporated into the charter.\r\n\r\nBruce Wessell said he supports the RAD because it gives property owners more control over community management than they currently enjoy. Wessell described a former homeowners association as a \u201cwatchdog without teeth,\u201d and said owners would have greater power, even in the minority on an elected RAD board.\r\n\r\nUnder the proposed RAD framework, residential property owners would elect three members of a seven-member RAD board. Corporation management would have an initial majority of four board members, which would only change in the event of major shifts in non-residential property ownership.\r\n\r\nSam Gibson stated his opinion that taxpayer money should not be used to fund corporate projects. Gibson said Snowshoe Mountain should find a way to fund necessary improvement projects, without creation of a corporate special tax district.\r\n\r\nIf a RAD is created, it will have the power to collect a \u201cretail transaction fee,\u201d and collect property assessments to fund public works projects.\r\n\r\nRichard Marker said he opposed the current RAD proposal due to the lack of a dissolution clause. Marker suggested a provision that would allow dissolution by a majority vote, following a petition by 25 percent of property owners.\r\n\r\nIn response to concerns about proposed RAD bylaws, Snowshoe Mountain CEO Frank DeBerry said that preliminary bylaws, prepared by a founding committee, are \u201ca skeleton,\u201d and that final bylaws would be drafted and approved by elected board members.\r\n\r\nCommissioner David Fleming praised Snowshoe\u2019s work on the RAD initiative.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe process that has unfolded before us is as good as it gets,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nFleming said judging the constitutionality of the RAD statute is not the Commission\u2019s role.\r\n\r\n\u201cOur role is to make our best shot and pass this or not,\u201d he said. \u201cAs far as problems with constitutionality, we\u2019re not the Circuit Court, we\u2019re certainly not the Supreme Court. I think the role of the County Commission is to either pass it or not and make sure our concerns are met.\u201d\r\n\r\nCommissioner Jamie Walker said he is concerned that persons who do not own property in the district - therefore ineligible to vote in RAD elections - could serve as board members.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt concerns me a little bit that you can actually have a seat on the board, but cannot vote for yourself,\u201d he said. \u201cIf you\u2019re a representative, you should be able to vote for yourself.\u201d\r\n\r\nWalker said he needed more assurance that a RAD would not affect county hotel occupancy tax collection, and said he favors a dissolution clause, but is uncertain whether the Commission has the authority to insert such a clause into the RAD charter.\r\n\r\nCommissioner William Beard said several people had asked him about a RAD\u2019s impact on county revenue.\r\n\r\n\u201cI got a lot of phone calls and I received a lot of comments from various people I\u2019ve run into in the last couple weeks,\u201d he said. \u201cA lot of people do not understand it and they\u2019re concerned. They\u2019re concerned, like Mr. Walker, about the hotel\/motel tax. There\u2019s also concern about going back to the Legislature and changing the law and taking a portion of the property taxes, and whether that is a possibility.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cAs three members on the Commission, we need to look into some of these issues,\u201d Beard added.\r\n\r\nThe next regular County Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 7, at 8:30 a.m. The Commission will consider and act on the RAD petition during its regular meeting on August 19 at 5:30 p.m.