For several years, some of the residents in the Massanutten area have been working towards making the community an incorporated town. The movement has largely been headed by Gene Hauze who has been canvassing the area collecting signatures for the petition to incorporate Massanutten. Ultimately, Del. Tony Wilt and Sen. Emmett Hanger both felt that without more support, it would not be possible to incorporate during the 2020 General Assembly. Massanutten remains unincorporated at this time but Hauze feels it is a matter of when, not if, the community of Massanutten becomes a town.
Proponents of incorporating argue that over the past decade, as Massanutten Resort expands and gains popularity, the number of timeshares (and areas that are zoned for timeshares) have outpaced single family homes. The company managing these timeshares, Great Eastern Resort Management, has recently withdrawn from the Massanutten Property Owners Association (MPOA) which in turn will result in a loss of $420,000 annual funding for the association. This means that HOA rates increase for the residents while visitors continue to enjoy the services and amenities Massanutten provides.
Hauze has outlined how incorporating could benefit the residents. According to Lowell Barb, the commissioner of revenue for Rockingham County, if Massanutten were to become a town, it would keep the roughly $1.2 million in meal tax and short-term rental fees that are otherwise paid to the county. If these taxes were then modestly increased, Hauze argues, Massanutten as a town could then have enough money for a town police force, town administration, plus mortgage payments for a town hall. It would also significantly reduce the HOA fees and allow the town to determine its own zoning and ordinances.
Those against incorporating feel that MPOA has proved their value and continues to provide good service. In particular, Basil Hangemanole, a long-time resident of Massanutten, feels that people who have property in the area, while not being primary residents, could be disenfranchised. Additionally, Rockingham County has confirmed that they are looking into providing water and sewer services (which some residents feel has become disproportionately expensive with their current provider) and having county deputies assigned to the area. The county has also been in communication with VDOT about turning over some of the roads in Massanutten to the state. Wilt believes that these measures could rectify many of the issues and that incorporating would put an end to negotiations or could adversely affect negotiations in the future if incorporating through legislation fails.
Whether these measures are a temporary fix or provide lasting solutions for the residents of Massanutten remains to be seen. As for incorporation, the Legal Standard for Incorporation requires that the court must find that: the incorporation will be in the best interest of the inhabitants of the proposed town; and, the general good of the community will be promoted by the incorporation (amongst other things). This will likely remain a topic of debate for the residents of Massanutten in the foreseeable future.