A Christian camp that straddles the Fayette and Clark County line was granted a special permit for a small zipline on Friday, even though another zipline operation nearby was denied a similar request.
Lexington's Board of Adjustment voted 5-2 to allow Blue Grass Christian Camp off Athens-Boonesboro Road a conditional-use permit to construct a small zipline that will cross from Clark County into Fayette County. Michael Fann, director of the camp, told the board the zipline will complement an existing adventure course used by campers and those that attend weekend retreats.
The zipline will not be open to the general public, Fann said.
The camp, which has been in existence since 1949, has a summer camp program and also hosts school groups, church-related retreats and other groups mostly in the spring and fall, Fann said.
Fayette County's zoning ordinance does not specifically address ziplines and canopy tours. One of the most controversial and complicated zoning cases in recent years involved the denial of Boone Creek Outdoors a permit to operate a zipline and tree canopy tour off Old Richmond Road and Interstate 75.
Boone Creek Outdoors' zipline was not approved by either the Board of Adjustment or the Planning Commission. Boone Creek challenged those decisions in court. Some of those cases are still on appeal.
Bill Sallee, manager of planning services, told the Board of Adjustment that this application was different than Boone Creek's in two key ways — the scale of the zipline and the impact on the neighborhood and the environment.
The Boone Creek proposal involved 15 different platforms. The camp's proposal was for one platform on the Fayette County side and a second platform on the Clarke County side. The primary use of the land is for a camp — the zipline is a small part of overall programming.
In the Boone Creek application, the zipline and canopy tour were the primary draw and the zipline would have been open to the public, Sallee said.
"We don't see this as having a large impact on the neighborhood," Sallee said.
No one spoke against the application during Friday's meeting. For the Boone Creek application, there was heated opposition from the neighborhood.
As a condition of approval for the permit, Blue Grass must provide the city with proof that the zipline has been inspected and camp staff have been trained to operate the zipline. (Kentucky does not currently inspect ziplines. All inspections are done by third-party private inspectors.)
The zipline can only be used by camp participants and can not be used by the general public.