Zipline permit decision due Dec. 23; residents’ concern is traffic in area south of Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — Zipline park proponent Dan Williams and the property owners who oppose his proposed eco-center south of Port Angeles have made their cases.

Now it’s up to Clallam County Hearing Examiner Chris Melly to render a decision, expected within two weeks, on a conditional use permit for the proposed 40-acre eco-park.

Most of the public testimony taken in a two-hour hearing on Wednesday centered on the anticipated traffic congestion the zipline park would cause on Little River, Lake Dawn and upper Black Diamond roads.

Public comment

“Personally, I think the whole idea of a zipline in the North Olympics is absurd,” said May Carrell of Port Angeles, who predicted the zipline park will be a fad.

“I think they should build their own road and not use and confuse the rest of the area roads.”

Williams, who owns Green Planet Zipline Inc., has proposed to lease the mainly clearcut land from the state Department of Natural Resources to build a $1.8 million zipline course.

He filed for a permit with Clallam County on Oct. 19.

Melly will consider Wednesday’s public testimony and 46 exhibits, most of which are letters and e-mails, and have a decision by Dec. 23.

Williams has said the zipline course would consist of 8,000 feet of cable and would be the largest in the world.

Seven ziplines — ranging from 380 feet to 1,586 feet long — are proposed, with launch platforms built in trees and one skybridge.

Gravity would carry harnessed thrill-seekers down cables at speeds of up to 100 mph. Williams envisions the course making Port Angeles a travel destination.

‘Family-fun outing’

“This is a family-fun outdoor adventure attraction,” Williams said during a video and slide presentation at the hearing.

Williams said the traffic impact would be minimal. Visitors would board a 10-person van in downtown Port Angeles.

These vans would make 16 round trips per day during a 178-day season.

The Clallam County Planning Department has filed a recommendation to grant the permit, provided Green Planet Zipline caps van traffic at 32 trips per day.

Another condition in the staff recommendation is that the vans travel in a loop, approaching from Hurricane Ridge Road and Lake Dawn and exiting down Black Diamond Road.

Traffic issue

Joseph Pullara of Lake Dawn predicted that someone paying $90 to ride on a zipline would likely drive to the site to “check it out first,” which would add to the traffic on the primitive county roads.

“I’m not opposed to a zipline,” Pullara said. “I’m concerned with the traffic issue.”

Likewise, Ted Ripley of Lake Dawn said he’s not opposed to the park, just the safety of the residents who walk along the narrow gravel roads.

“I support the proposal,” said Jim Podlesny, a county permit technician speaking as a resident.

“Whichever way the traffic goes, I’m sure the drivers will be careful.”

A single-wide mobile home would serve as the eco-center and launch site, Williams said. Five parking spaces would be available for an expected four employees.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at rob.ollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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