Too Much Play on the Cool Davis article
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tgd
November 28, 2005
Member since 07/15/2004
585 posts
Is anyone else surprised by the amount of play the Men's Journal article that rated Davis as one of the 10 coolest mountain towns has gotten? A follow-up article has since appeared in USA Today featuring interviews with Blanzy, Chip, and Roger Lilly. I believe another major paper also carried this second article. Much to my surpise, when I logged onto the CNN website Thursday morning - they are also running a copy of the USA Today article on the home page.

Maybe I am just too damn cynical, but I suspect someone is behind all this publicity. I like Davis, and Thomas - a lot, but they probably have fewer than 10-12 stable businesses between them. I wonder how a couple small depressed ex-mining/timber towns that are linked to civilization by nearly 100 miles of 2-lane mountain roads can command so much newspaper print and internet HTML? Who or what is behind this - and what do they really want???
RyanC
November 29, 2005
Member since 11/28/2003
160 posts
I was wondering the same thing myself. But...up until 2 yrs ago I never even heard of Canaan Valley. It's the closest thing to an 'out west' feel you'll ever get within 4 hrs of Baltimore/Washington, so that's a big draw. Also, in spite of the fact that the towns may be considered economically depressed, the DC area yuppies sure have discovered Canaan. I'm glad I bought my condo almost 2 yrs ago. I'd consider Canaan Valley borderline "affluent" now. Not Tucker County, but the Rt. 32 corridor in Canaan would probably meet the criteria for being "affluent", mainly due to the influx of DC-area weekenders.

Hopefully there's enough of an owner base up there now so we can successfully fight any potentially retarded local politician 'development' plans (ie. big box stores, prisons, etc) from ever coming near the valley
JohnL
November 29, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Quote:

Maybe I am just too damn cynical, but I suspect someone is behind all this publicity.




Media organizations are notorious for picking-up/recycling the work of other media outlets. Once a story is told by a major outlet, others will pick it up like crazy. Buzz creates buzz.

If you want to blame someone, blame Andy, he's an easy target.
tgd
November 29, 2005
Member since 07/15/2004
585 posts
RyanC: Davis definately has a split personality. One is the outdoorsy mountain town catering to tourism and outdoor sports - this is the external view broadcast now to a nationwide audience in articles published in Men's Journal, USA Today, and CNN. The other Davis has its roots as a blue collar working town facing the harsh realities of outsourcing and globalization. Check out the following link to an article that recently appeared in the Charleston Gazette. This gives a slightly different view of Davis.

Whose Land is it anyway?
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 29, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
If Tucker County really cared about tax revenues, they would reassess property values and raise property taxes. DC has done this every year since 1999.
tromano
November 29, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
All politics is local... <reaches for talkig points memo>

Coridor-H should really help out with the tourism industry. Speaking of which, does tucker county have a DC style commuter tax?
RyanC
November 30, 2005
Member since 11/28/2003
160 posts
Thanks for the link. Interesting. I'd in fact love to live in my condo year-round in Canaan, but...as anyone will tell you locally, there are NO jobs up there!!! If I could take my federal salary and telecommute 100% of the time from Canaan (which will never happen), I'd be set

Not that I'm complaining, but I'm totally amazed at how low property taxes are in Tucker County.

I will say that I (and I'm sure many other property owners in the valley) will do whatever it takes to ensure CV doesn't become another Deep Creek (grossly overdeveloped) or Tucker County doesn't get overrun with prisons, etc. like Allegheny County, MD. With technology today, there CAN and SHOULD be a balance re: growth.
gatkinso
November 30, 2005
Member since 01/25/2002
316 posts
Is it true that only two counties in WV have zoning laws? This would be a good first step.

But let's face it: if a place is pretty people will come and all of the complaining (mainly by the by the nouveau locals) will be in vain.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 30, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Property taxes are sort of tricky. Rising Killington area property taxes drove a lot of condo buyers to NH. Obviously, a big advantage that WV ski communities have over MD, PA, and VA ski communities are lower property taxes (by and large). With that being said, property values have doubled in the past 4 years and Tucker County is broke. Hence, they need to think about reassesments as a way to generate more money for basic services. I don' think taxes from new property alone will do the trick. A generous homestead exemption could protect locals from the pain but they too must share in the pain because they utilize local services more than skiers (schools, police, etc). Just my two cents.
dmh
November 30, 2005
Member since 12/11/2003
127 posts
One of the realities of CV is that there is not much land left to develop. Much of the remaining raw land is either part of the national wildlife refuge or belongs to the Nature Conservancy. The land recently brought on the market is selling in faily large parcels (at shocking prices) with few new condo/townhouse developments outside TL. CV has almost reached the end of its growth potential.

That is good news for current owners--scarcity drives up prices--but bad news for those trying to buy in. Given the increase real estate values, Tucker should realize substantially increased revenue, although I can say from personal experience that assessments are ridiculously low. The other consequence is that other parts of the county should see increased growth and must prepare now to guard against the Deep Creekification of the county. Next trip there I intend to look at property in Thomas, a place with real potential as a tourist town for DC travelers.
tgd
November 30, 2005
Member since 07/15/2004
585 posts
Quote:

But let's face it: if a place is pretty people will come and all of the complaining (mainly by the by the nouveau locals) will be in vain.




You hit the nail on the head with that. I expect significant change coming to the Valley soon. Perhaps not for a few more years - but I can't see the valley being missed by the next big real estate boom. The place is too damn nice! The lack of developable land is an issue; however, there is plenty of redevelopable property up there - older structures, empty buildings, empty lots. The vast amount of protected land will preserve open spaces, while there is plenty of property in private hands that can be torn down and rebuilt in just about any image.

Redevelopment would generate a good number of decent paying construction jobs as well. It just seems though that Davis and Tucker County politicians (with plenty of local support) are hanging onto the hope that a Toyota or GM is willing to locate a manufacturing plant in the vacant industrial park off 93. Unfortunately, Tucker County will have to accept what has become increasingly obvious all over the country - we don't do that kind of work anymore in the US. Recent disclosure that Corridor H is perhaps 8 years away from reaching Tucker County further impacts the chances of landing a big corporate relocation deal for the Tucker County Industrial park.

8 years is a long time to wait for a job if you need one now; however, the likelyhood of easy access leading to increased growth in the area is a great prospect to investors and speculators looking at buying relatively underpriced land with low taxes now.
bawalker
November 30, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
You are correct. If memory serves me correctly, the only counties with zoning laws are Jefferson, Co. (Down around Berkely Springs/Harpers Ferry areas) and either the city of Charleston or Kanawah Co.) Currently Hardy Co. is in the process of developing zoning laws which are set to be approved.

However the group I'm with fighting the dams in lost river are opposed to zoning laws due to the impracticality of zoning in Hardy Co. and due to the outrageous makeup of the zoning map. What we are currently doing is forcing the issue of zoning to be taken to a general public vote rather than blindly accepting it via the county commission. If it fails public vote, it's over.

Quote:

Is it true that only two counties in WV have zoning laws? This would be a good first step.

But let's face it: if a place is pretty people will come and all of the complaining (mainly by the by the nouveau locals) will be in vain.


fishnski
December 1, 2005
Member since 03/27/2005
3,530 posts
Talked to a someone way down here at the beach in SE NC who had just read about the Davis & the Canaan area...I think the short but SWEET CNN article captured the overall feel of the area best.They mentioned canaan vly bieng the highest valley east of the rockies but failed to mention that the area also has the highest plateau east of the rockies in flatrock & the roaring plains(Home to Mount Porte Crayon)Lots of alpine wilderness south of the Mason Dixon Line!!...7.5 hour drive seperating wild(not just transplanted) Palms,Aligaters,beautifull beaches ect...." from WILD Spruce & firs...SNOW...Sweet...
gatkinso
December 1, 2005
Member since 01/25/2002
316 posts
There is still (maybe not quite a) stigma associated with WV. Many I have talked too say the place sounds great "but WV???? Ewww!"

Let them think that!
jimmy
December 1, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
Gat, don't worry,
Roger Z
December 1, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
The problem with these discussions is that the idea that real estate should be the salvation of these rural counties is a distinctly outsider based solution. Real estate is not a basic industry. It can support a basic industry- such as tourism- but it is not something you use to generate positive economic growth. By and large, real estate costs more to a county than it gives back. Unless the roads are private, the sites are well water and septic, and the folks living in the real estate don't have children attending the local schools.

Even then, the people living in these tourist havens are probably part-time residents, and any residual environmental effects from leaking septic or declining water conditions from plowing on sprawling private road networks adversely impacts year-round residents.

There are three local industries that Tucker County can benefit from, and they have nothing to do with that ill-thought-out industrial park they tried to build. First, there is the coal plant at Mount Storm Lake. Tucker could benefit from building off those facilities, possibly with a koching plant. Second, there are the wind turbines, which however ugly Whitegrass might find them is a clean source of energy that uses natural resources sustainably and provides local jobs. Third, there is a small manufacturing base in Thomas related to the arts community that is starting to grow there. I really like this development, because it combines some talents that are being brought in by new residents with the job skills of the long time residents, creating a product that can be sold elsewhere in the process and bringing revenue into the county.

No economic development plan should ignore opportunities to expand their energy industries and assist the arts community in Thomas. These can form the basis for some economic growth that locals can participate in, rather than just crossing their fingers that more out-of-towners buy up whatever land remains and continue to drive up property values.

The ownership of land was kind of ironic. We hear all the time that all this tax money raised in places like Fairfax County gets redistributed to poor communities in the rest of the state. How many of these communities are poor because of policies such as land acquisition in the first place? I'd be interested in seeing some more studies conducted that show how things like federalizing land impact the local tax base. Would Manhattan be the economic engine that it is if 50% or more of it was off limits to development?
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