Judge rules in favor of Seven Springs Mountain Resort over road closure
A Fayette County judge has denied a request to keep a road open near Seven Springs Mountain Resort in winter, a situation the ski resort said could have crippled its operations.
With the order in hand and temperatures dipping below freezing during the weekend, Seven Springs began making snow on Sunday.
“We are quite pleased and supportive of the ruling, and we are thankful that our local community, our 1,800 employees and our guests can move forward with our preparations for another fantastic winter,” said Katie Buchan, communications manager for the resort.
The resort’s “snow guns” will continue to operate as conditions allow, but Seven Springs has not yet announced an opening date.
Gabriel and Gloria Hudock of Canonsburg filed a lawsuit earlier this month seeking to stop Seven Springs from dumping artificial snow on Neals Run Road, located near the resort on the mountain’s north face. The couple purchased land for $1 million along the road in 2007 and built a second home there in 2008, according to county property records.
The road traditionally is closed from Nov. 15 to April 1 to accommodate the resort, according to legal briefs filed with the lawsuit. In exchange, the resort pays fees to the township, which totaled $497,248 when the suit was filed.
The Hudocks say an alternate route to their home is unreliable and treacherous, according to the lawsuit. They argue a public road cannot be closed to benefit a private entity, and they are seeking to force the resort and township to keep the road open and clear of snow in winter.
Until the lawsuit is resolved, the Hudocks wanted a judge to issue a preliminary injunction forcing the township to keep the road open – including for the current ski season. But in an order handed down last week, Judge Nancy Vernon denied the request.
In denying the preliminary injunction, Vernon found the Hudocks failed to prove “immediate and irreparable harm” because they have “owned the property for a period of seven years under the same conditions in regard to Neals Run Road.”
Had Vernon ordered the road to be kept open, the resort would have lost 73 percent of its skiable terrain, said its attorney, John R. Merinar of Bridgeport, W.Va., in legal documents.
About 13,000 skiers and snowboarders who purchased season passes for the upcoming season would have been immediately impacted if the road had been kept open, according to the resort, and it risked the loss of hundreds of seasonal jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenues.
Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or [email protected].