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Trail group plans to appeal hotel

Published June 07. 2017 02:46PM

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy announced that it plans to appeal the decision that would allow Blue Mountain Resort to build an 85-foot-high hotel near the trail.

The statement was released in response to the decision by the Lower Towamensing Township Zoning Hearing Board on May 30 to approve seven of eight variances requested for Blue Mountain Resort, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy announced that it plans to appeal the decision.

The conservancy said the construction will impact the views, as well as contribute to light and noise pollution in the area.

The variances allow for the construction of the condominium and hotel 12 feet from a conservation easement with the National Park Service.

Ron Tipton, president and CEO of the conservancy, said the board should have required the Blue Mountain to relocate the condominium/hotel or to change the design to make it less visible to the trail hikers. It is this variance that most concerns the organization.

"We will appeal this decision and use the legal means necessary to achieve the appropriate outcome with the support of other trail clubs," Tipton added.

The zoning board originally met on April 18 and decided that the conservancy did not have legal standing to object to the variances.

They admitted testimony by the National Park Service and agreed that it had standing because parts of the trail are its property.

The conservancy contends that it should have been admitted because it has an agreement with the park service since 2014 that permits members to advocate for the Appalachian Trail when it is threatened by development.

"While the Appalachian Trail Conservancy genuinely wants to see neighboring outdoor recreation businesses succeed, we want to work with them to ensure that their efforts don't degrade the trail," said Karen Lutz, regional director for the conservancy.

"There are alternatives to this plan, and we are ready to work with Blue Mountain Ski Resort to find creative ways to protect the trail user's experience while still allowing the resort to thrive. However, we are ready to defend the Appalachian Trail for millions of visitors who expect to have a unique and memorable outdoor recreation experience."

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