Skiers Will Be Punished for Out-of-Control Zoning
Now, here is an issue I am uniquely qualified to write about. It involves my primary area of study (local government), an issue (zoning) that we regularly debate around the Show-Me Institute, and pretty much my favorite thing to do: skiing. And, yes, I’ve have been to Hidden Valley plenty of times, although not in the past few years.
Wildwood, with its 16 (why?) councilmembers, is regulating Hidden Valley out of business. I know this will come as a shock to some people in government who think you can just take and take and take, but sometimes businesses and citizens can’t take it any more and they leave. Much like the citizens in Chesterfield who complain about the noise from Spirit airport, citizens who almost assuredly moved to Wildwood after Hidden Valley opened are now complaining about it. Complaining is one thing, but shutting it down through nuisance regulations is another. From the article in the Post-Dispatch, I present you the picture of local zoning run amuck (my comments in italics):
Boyd said he learned last week, at a meeting of the Planing and Zoning Commission, that he may be required to pay a nearly $252,000 fee to build the proposed parking lot.
$252 K for a parking lot. Amazing, but not surprising.
The city also was requiring that Hidden Valley get its permission to stay open past 11 p.m.
Liquor is not involved here, as I understand it, so there is no reason to enforce this, other then neighbors’ complaints about something that predated their arrival.
Woerther said Boyd had several ways to get around the $252,000 fee, such as offering up a few of the resort’s acres for public space.
Beautiful. If you just give us some of your property, we will waive the fee. The owner is right to call this blackmail.
I understand that conflicts occur as areas change — from farmland to suburbs, from slums to gentrified lofts, from nature to business parks. This is why you grandfather things in, so that property owners who ride out the changes do not get punished. You also need local officials with a modicum of common sense. Wildwood officials do not appear to have any of that, which is why they are losing a great business, a great asset, and a large property taxpayer. But, most of all, I hope they are happy that the local disabled skiers association no longer has a place to ski. Job well done, Wildwood.