LEAVENWORTH — Friends of Leavenworth's board of directors voted this week to appeal the hearing examiner's ruling that a proposed adventure park could move forward.
Developers John Sutherland and Dave Moffett applied for a zoning exception to allow for construction of the Leavenworth Adventure Park on the west end of the Bavarian Village. The city in February approved an environmental analysis of the project, required under the State Environmental Policy Act, and Friends of Leavenworth appealed.
After an April 30 public hearing, Hearing Examiner Andrew Kottkamp said he would reach a decision within 10 business days but later requested an extension. He gave the project the go-ahead May 20.
Now, the Friends group plans to take the issue to Chelan County Superior Court.
"We got an overwhelming response from our supporters that they are still very opposed to the project," said board member Kirvil Skinnarland. "They feel that it doesn't belong in Leavenworth. They feel that the project site is too small for that use and there's not enough buffers or space between the site and surrounding residential uses. There's still a huge amount of concern about traffic congestion at the intersection of U.S. 2 and Icicle Road. Based on that feedback, our only option is to appeal to superior court."
There won't be any new information presented or another public hearing, she said, but a judge will review comments and testimony already in the record.
More than 200 people attended the April public hearing, with many residents voicing concerns about the proposed park. Objections included noise, lights, traffic, parking shortages and effects on nearby wetlands.
Skinnarland said her group plans to include most of the same concerns in its appeal but likely not the wetlands issue.
Sutherland said he and Moffett have changed the project since the initial plan after reviewing public comments.
"There's two setbacks in the road: one on Icicle Creek and one on Highway 2 for 25 feet," he said. "We had originally requested a variance for those two so we could build within them, but the Friends of Leavenworth were opposed to that. We did give that up."
The adventure park will be the only business in the city to adhere to dark sky lighting standards, he said, and the main feature — an alpine coaster — won't have large lights. Developers have also conducted traffic studies and reviewed noise studies from other projects.
"I'm super understanding about their concerns and, frankly, we wouldn't be building the project if what many of these people are frightened of would be the case," Sutherland said. "We don't want to build a project where there's so much traffic that people can't get there or it destroys the earth. That's not going to help our business."
He said the developers want to be part of the community and he believes the park will add to the city’s Bavarian theme.
Kottkamp ruled the park's planned hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. should be reduced to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. He denied the developers' request for him to reconsider.
Friends of Leavenworth asked Kottkamp to reconsider various findings. He revised one to clarify his reasoning but denied the others.
Skinnarland said the Friends group has so far spent over $16,000 in donations to fight the park, and she estimates it'll spend about the same on the court appeal.
"I think the community is pretty disappointed that we're having to spend this amount of money and go through this kind of process to feel like the concerns of the community are being listened to and addressed," she said.
The city has so far spent $58,432.34 defending the SEPA determination, according to Development Services Manager Lilith Vespier.
Friends of Leavenworth will provide more information at a public meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Cascade High School, 10190 Chumstick Highway, Leavenworth.