Plans for Clallam zipline are tossed

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Plans to build a world-class zipline park in the foothills have been abandoned after a request to extend the project’s conditional use permit was denied last week by Clallam County Hearing Examiner Chris Melly.

Melly had approved the original permit more than three years ago.

But the project was taking too long to get under way, he said.

“The bloom is off the flower,” Melly said.

Dan Williams, project manager and chief executive officer for Green Planet Zipline Inc., said Melly made the right ruling.

“I agree with the decision,” Williams said.

“The project is dead on the Olympic Peninsula.”

The $1.8 million, zipline-eco-park would have been built on 40 acres of commercial forest leased from the state Department of Natural Resources off Little River Road.

Williams said it would have featured the largest zipline course in the world.

Now that’s not going to happen, despite the $300,000 that Williams said has been spent on development and research.

“We’re done,” Williams said. “There’s no way we’re going to revisit this.

“We can’t recommit funding to Port Angeles.”

In his three-page opinion issued Tuesday after a March 13 hearing on Williams’ application to extend the permit, Melly said there has been no “substantive progress” on the project since December 2009, when he approved the original permit.

He cited the state Department of Natural Resources’ change of heart.

The agency was a co-applicant for the original permit.

“DNR has turned decidedly negative and opined that ‘no substantive progress toward the fulfillment of this project has been made.’”

Williams said an April 8, 2012 Easter Sunday car crash on state Highway 3 near Poulsbo hindered his and Green Planet’s ability to follow through on the permit.

Williams, who was the driver, is still undergoing physical therapy, he said.

“Everything was staged here to do this,” Williams said.

But DNR officials said there had been no formal lease negotiations.

“There are many areas of serious concern for DNR that remain unresolved,” DNR Olympic Region Manager Susan Trettevik said in an email that was part of the permit hearing record.

“We do not currently expect to enter into a leasing agreement regarding this project in the near future.”

Green Planet had completed various tasks that did not involve making physical improvements to the property, Melly said.

The company had devised a wild land fire response plan, trained staff, bought equipment and vehicles and obtained funding for construction, Melly said.

They included obtaining building permits, approval of a site plan and submittal of a landscape plan.

But the steps taken by Green Planet “are of no moment to the department or the neighbors surrounding the project site,” he said.

According to the Clallam County Code, “substantial progress” must be made on a project for a permit extension to be granted, Melly said.

“If inadequate physical improvements have been made and various and sundry submittals for review to the Department of Community Development have not been made, it can reasonable be said that ‘substantial progress’ has not been made,” he said.

“Here, the subject property has not been touched by the applicant, and the department has not been request to review plans required as a condition of the [conditional use permit] approval.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 23. 2013 6:07PM
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