The process to create a Snowshoe resort area district (RAD) began during the March 18 Pocahontas County Commission meeting, when Snowshoe Mountain President and Chief Operations Officer Frank DeBerry delivered a petition for the creation of a RAD.
If the commission approves the Snowshoe RAD, it will become a public corporation, governed by a seven-member board. By law, the board must include three representatives of owners of improved residential property; two representatives of the resort operator; one owner or representative of owners of commercial business property in the district, and one owner or representative of owners of unimproved, developable real property in the district.
Under state law, only owners of commercial business property may nominate persons for the board position provided for an owner of or a representative of owners of commercial business property, and only owners of unimproved, developable real property may nominate persons for the board position provided for an owner of or a representative of owners of unimproved, developable real property.
Since Snowshoe Mountain owns the majority of commercial and developable property on the mountain, resort management likely would acquire and maintain a majority of four members on the governing board. However, six votes are necessary to implement or modify a resort service fee, levy an assessment, or borrow money.
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 specific infrastructure or public safety projects. The RAD would also have the power to create and operate a police force, known as “resort area rangers.”
The Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department would be responsible for collection of assessments and enforcement of unpaid assessments. However, property may not be sold to satisfy RAD assessment liens.
Money collected by RAD fees and assessments will supplement the Mountain Top Assessment, currently collected by the resort.
In its petition, Snowshoe Mountain states it would collect, initially, a resort service fee of two percent on lift tickets, equipment rentals, prepared food and beverage and retail sales to end users of consumer goods, but no fee on lodging. The petition adds that “the resort service fee will ultimately be decided by the board.” The petition states that no assessment would be levied within the first three years of RAD operation.
The commission must issue a determination, no later than May 17, on the completeness of Snowshoe’s petition. If the petition is complete, the commission must set a date for a public meeting to consider and act on the petition. At least 60 days prior to the public meeting, the commission must notify all property owners within the proposed RAD, by mail.
During the public meeting, the commission may approve or disapprove creation of the RAD, unless a minimum of 25 percent of proposed RAD property owners file a written protest. If a protest is filed by the requisite number of property owners, a RAD may not be created and a petition may not be re-submitted for one year.
Snowshoe Mountain resort was purchased in 1995 by Canadian ski resort operator Intrawest. In 2006, Intrawest was acquired by the private equity firm Fortress Investment Group. Intrawest continues to operate as an independent unit of Fortress. The resort published a copy of the RAD petition and additional information on the Snowshoe Mountain website, under the “homeowners” section at the bottom of the page.
See next week’s edition of The Pocahontas TImes for a discussion with Frank DeBerry on the proposed RAD.