Planning Commission votes to approve zip line adventure, which could be appealed | CraigDailyPress.com

Planning Commission votes to approve zip line adventure, which could be appealed

Tom Ross

— Routt County Planning Director Chad Phillips said this week that although the Planning Commission voted Sept. 4 in favor of granting a permit to allow construction of an eight-segment zip line course off the west shoulder of Rabbit Ears Pass, he would withhold the permit at least until the end of the business day Thursday. That's the deadline for people opposed to the zip line to appeal the decision.

"We had enough emotional comment on both sides that I would be surprised if this is not appealed,” Phillips said.

Phillips said he announced to members of the public at the end of the hearing that he would not immediately issue the permit to Steamboat Zipline Adventures, waiting the five days opponents are given to appeal the decision to the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

Owners of adjacent properties, who received formal notices of the plans for the zip line and wish to appeal, may go to the county Web page and download the appropriate form under the heading “applications.”

Phillips said processing the form requires the same staff time as processing a request for a conditional-use permit and hence carries the same fee of $600. Realistically, only one party needs to file the appeal to bring about the hearing with the county commissioners.

Jason Cobb, who is the longtime operator of Steamboat Snowmobile Tours, is proposing to build the zip line operation on 71 acres a short distance up the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass off U.S. Highway 40. In a letter to the county planning staff, Cobb said he is optimistic that the new business venture would enhance summer tourism in the valley while allowing him to offer year-round employment to his snowmobile staff.

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The zip lines would be supported by 12-foot wooden towers.

Cobb described the course in a written presentation to the county: "The first zip line is 900 feet (in length) and they will travel through cottonwood tees to a beautiful rock outcropping," Cobb wrote. "The second line, which is 700 feet long, will take the guest into a glade of aspen trees. The third is a double racer (with twin lines 10 feet apart) that is a total of 1,200 feet long."

Mary Sue Sorenson, writing on behalf of the Routt Powder Riders Snowmobile Club, praised Cobb for his operation of commercial snowmobile tours and pointed out his philanthropic activities, saying the club, of which he is a board member, fully supports his plans for the zip line.

However, Caesar Sandoval, of Zarmar LLC in Miami, Florida, who owns 45 acres of land immediately to the north of the zip line site, wrote that he is concerned that the recreational operation will conflict with the character of the area.

"I am quite concerned about the noise generated from this operation," Sandoval wrote to county planning. The "applicant agrees there may be an 'occasional scream of excitement.' I think there could well be more screaming than that."

Another neighbor, Jace Romick, disputed Cobb's legal standing to use a historic two-track ranch access road located in part on an easement across his property to shuttle clients in off-road vehicles back to the top of the zip line.

Phillips said opponents of the proposal could email him their intent to appeal. Appeals that cite reasons why the objectors think the zip line operation is not consistent with the county master plan or zoning regulations would be the most effective, Phillips added.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1