Proposed canopy tours causing controversy

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Associated Press

Posted on March 3, 2013 at 11:01 AM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A plan to provide canopy tours in the southeastern part of Fayette County is turning into a controversy.

Businessman Burgess Carey says he got a permit a decade ago to build private outdoor fishing and recreation amenities in the Boone Creek area and he has recently moved forward with plans to create canopy tours to go along with a fishing club. The tours would consist of using short zip lines to travel between wooden platforms built up in trees.

However, nearby residents have complained about the plans for the area and city officials have asked Carey to stop construction while they investigate.

Carey told the Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/WrQRwe) that the request "didn't cite any authority" such as an ordinance or statute, and so he has no plans to stop construction of the project. He says he hopes to open it in spring.

"I can't wait to open," he said. "The most beneficial thing is this is a way to share the property in a controlled, non-impactful way with other people."

Neighbors say his plans aren't allowed under the current code.

Mary Diane Hanna, president of the Old Richmond Road Neighborhood Association, says zoning regulations don't allow a private club in an agricultural zone to operate as a for-profit business.

"A canopy-tour system for commercial purpose is not one of the conditional uses permitted in agricultural zoned areas of Fayette County," Hanna said.

Chris King, the city director of planning, said staff is concerned about the project.

"The Division of Planning has opened an official investigation of potential zoning violations," King said.

Meanwhile, King said Carey has been asked to "cease any additional construction activity while the investigation is in process."

If construction continues, King said a notice of violation would be issued.

Opponents have said that police, fire and emergency medical vehicles might have difficulty accessing the area because it is so remote.

Carey's attorney, John Park, said his client envisions an activity in which guides would lead guests on tours and educate them on the history of the area and the negative impact of invasive species.

"It will be very much of an educational and cultural activity," Park said.

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