Thursday, May 23, 2024

Hearing Examiner considers public’s concerns over Leavenworth Adventure Park requests

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LEAVENWORTH – The public hearing with Hearing Examiner Andrew Kottkamp over Leavenworth Adventure Park’s (LAP) requested changes to its conditional use permit (CUP) had a large public turnout on Mar. 29. 

The hearing was held to consider the LAP’s request to amend its conditional use permit to allow live acoustic music outdoors and amplified music indoors, extend indoor operations to 10 p.m., and drop its ticketed parking requirements. 

The City of Leavenworth Staff Report recommended amending the CUP to allow for live acoustic music outside until 8 p.m. and acoustic music inside until 10 p.m., indoor operations to extend until 10 p.m., and to drop ticketed parking on the condition that the city could still require another parking report.

In terms of parking, members of the public voiced complaints about overflow parking of vehicles, RVs, and buses on Icicle Road, raising concerns about congestion and safety. Some expressed concerns that the street parking put bicyclists and pedestrians at risk, while others saw the congestion as an impediment to a critical egress point in the case of an emergency.

“My primary concern is parking and overflow onto Icicle that creates dangerous situations. It has happened, and I see no reason to change the original conditions that were set. The operator has not met those conditions,” said resident Doug Gann.

In his closing statement, LAP Manager John Sutherland argued that the overflow parking had significantly reduced after the park moved to a reservation-only system. The city staff report also noted that complaints about overflow and oversized parking had ceased after the collaboration between the city, county, and LAP resulted in the implementation of signage, clarified parking instructions on the LAP website, and communication with patrons. Kottkamp said he would take the reservation-only system into consideration when making his final decision.

The primary concern for music and extended hours was additional noise. Some residents felt the two should be reserved for the downtown core and LAP held to a different standard due to its height and proximity to neighborhoods despite being in the tourist commercial zone. 

Many felt that the existing parameters offered some noise relief from the excessive screaming throughout the day, which was the primary point of discussion during the hearing.

“The ability to enjoy my home and yard has been adversely affected by the Adventure Park, mainly from the constant screaming and yelling being emitted from the coaster riders,” said resident Charles Hamstreet.

The LAP completed its noise study required by the CUP in January in response to public comments regarding its amendment request. The report concluded that the noise was within municipal code. However, those in opposition at the hearing were dissatisfied with the location and timing of the study and stated that canyon echoing, foliage, and park attendance should have been taken into consideration. 

Those who testified about the screams had varying levels of experience and opinions. Some expressed hearing constant screams every day, while some only heard it under certain circumstances. Those who heard the screams unanimously found them to be unnerving and a safety concern. However, others claimed they either never heard it or that it wasn’t loud enough to compete with other city noise.

“I think we have to understand that there's noise from other parts of Leavenworth as well at equal or even more sensory level sound, and they didn't have to go through sound studies and other things to make that possible for them. I just think fairness is the key point here,” said resident Kurt Peterson.

The hearing had an overwhelming amount of opposition to the park, but a handful of supporters were also present. Those who were in favor of the amendments viewed the original conditions as unfair, potentially harming a business they believe has been a unique and positive addition to Leavenworth.

Kottkamp said he would have a decision in 10 working business days for the music, hours, and parking requests. However, Kottkamp was unable to address the complaints about screaming or the noise study, as it was not included in the request.

“All of that testimony that came out is very important, very valid, very relevant, but it’s not part of the three changes that the applicant has requested today. Now that being said, that doesn’t mean the issue of human noises from the coaster ride should not be further considered,” said Kottkamp.

Kottkamp suggested seeking out a second public hearing to address the noise and mitigation options. 

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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