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NEWBERRY ‒ There are hundreds of commercial ziplines in the U.S. and Newberry is poised to add one more as the Board of Adjustment approved a zipline application on May 9. The Special Exception application allows a zipline course, accessory uses and off-site signage on approximately 59.75 acres located east of Northwest County Road 235, approximately a half-mile south of the intersection of Northwest County Road 235 and Northwest 46th Avenue/County Road Northwest 36.

The application was submitted by Spain Development LLC, acting as agent on behalf of property owners Ann, Carl S. and John Salmi.

Special Conditions

The Planning and Zoning Board heard this application on May 2 and approved it with 11 conditions proposed by the City’s Planning and Economic Development Department. Those conditions include:

Prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy or Completion, the owners must obtain all necessary Florida Department of Health permits for the construction of a well and septic system, and, should City water and wastewater services be extended to a distance of 800 feet from the property, the owners must connect to City services within 12 months of notification of the availability and pay all applicable fees.

Prior to the issuance of a building permit, the owners shall obtain an access easement from the subject property to Northwest County Road 235 in a form acceptable to the city attorney which shall be recorded into the public records of Alachua County.

If the access road is gated, the owners shall coordinate with the Newberry Fire Department and Alachua County Fire Department on installation of a Knox-box for emergency access.

Prior to an issuance of an off-site sign permit, the owners shall provide evidence of authorization from the landowner upon which property the sign is placed to construct and maintain off-site signage in a form acceptable to the city attorney.

Prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy or Completion, owners shall provide to the City of Newberry Building Official and display in a conspicuous location on the property a valid Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) annual permit and record of the last inspection by same.

Prior to making modifications of operations, the owners shall notify FDACS and the City of Newberry Fire Department and Alachua County Fire Department by written and verbal report before those changes become operational.

All defects, manufacturer bulletins, or failures of inspection shared with FDACS must also be sent to the City of Newberry Fire Department and Alachua County Fire Department and the last 14 daily inspections must be made immediately available upon request by same.

The proposed use shall not be enlarged, increased, intensified or altered without further review by the City of Newberry Board of Adjustment or other board designated in the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) as amended from time to time, and discontinuation of the use for a period of 12 consecutive months shall render the special exception null and void.

No use of public address systems shall occur prior to 8 a.m. or after sunset, except under emergency circumstances.

The owners shall comply with and maintain an up-to-date an operations and emergency plan that is kept on file at all times with the City of Newberry Fire Department and Building Department, and same shall be notified by written and verbal report with fourteen days of any changes to the operation and emergency plan.

In accordance with the facility’s most current approved operations and emergency plan, owners shall: Provide, at the owners’ expense, the Fire/Rescue/EMS services specified and as may be determined necessary by the City of Newberry Fire Department, for all events, including all event days; provide adequate emergency medical services for all events, as required by their insurance and, as applicable, provide emergency vehicle access to all areas of the site and all event activities, allowing safe routes of passage prior, during and after events; not obstruct or impede emergency services access; provide on-site fire suppression capability and emergency medical service capability; ensure personnel are familiar with and can implement appropriate safety, maintenance, and emergency policies and procedures; obtain at least $1 million liability insurance; comply with all health requirements for the provision of restrooms and food handling, and ensure all mobile food vendors attain and hold a current mobile vendor license; and not permit open fires.

Karl Spain said there would be nine towers built on the property and a 1,064-sq. ft. building that includes bathrooms, concession stands and other required spaces.

Additional Requirements

The BOA added two more requirements including a $1 million policy per incident insurance policy and dark sky friendly lighting.

Although Spain said he planned on purchasing a $5 million umbrella, the City wanted to make sure the wording included at least $1 million insurance policy per incident. The other addition was dark sky friendly lighting on the building and structures. Spain said for special events he intended to light the cliffs, but on non-special event lighting he said he would agree to the dark sky friendly lighting requirement.

Additional items included a weight requirement of 70-275 lb. limit for riders on the zip lines, double line attachment to people on the zip line, a helicopter landing pad for emergencies, natural trails that would be constructed, towers constructed in steel, a handicapped line, wheel chair accessibility, staff training in basic life support and the inclusion of Automated External Defibrillator (AED) equipment on site.

Spain’s cost estimate at this time is $50-$55 for half-day riders and $95 for a full day. He said there would be an area for events such as weddings and that environmental education may be a part of the project at some point. Currently, he hopes for 90 – 200 visitors per day, but that the facility was rated to accommodate 350 visitors with upgrades in the number of employees on site.

The BOA unanimously approved the Special Exception with the addition of the dark sky lighting and insurance per incident requirement.

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