CARBON COUNTY, Pa. (July 3, 2017) – Last week, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) filed an appeal requesting legal access to voice their concerns regarding the Blue Mountain Ski Resort project and the impacts it will have on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.). As planned, the proposed 85-foot-high condominium and hotel will negatively impact scenic views on the A.T. as well as contribute to light and noise pollution in the Little Gap, Pennsylvania area.
Last Spring, the Lower Towamensing Township Zoning Hearing Board denied the ATC the right to be a legal party, despite the existence of a 2014 National Park Service agreement permitting the ATC to advocate for the A.T. when threatened by development. This action by the Board effectively prevented the ATC from being able to provide testimony regarding the extensive impact this project could have on the Trail.
The Blue Mountain Ski Resort condominium and hotel, also known as Vista Lodge,
would tower 85 feet over the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) corridor located
only 12 feet from the proposed construction site.
“As guardians of the Appalachian Trail, we have a duty to protect the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values that the Trail provides for millions of visitors each year,” said Karen Lutz, regional director of the ATC. “While the Appalachian Trail Conservancy wants to see neighboring outdoor recreation businesses succeed, we want to ensure that their efforts don’t degrade the Trail as a consequence.”
While there were seven other variances under review for this project, the variance that changes zoning for maximum building height from 50 feet to 85 feet is of most concern to the ATC due to its impact on the surrounding viewshed. Other variances addressed lot width, building setback requirements, maximum lot coverage, percentage of open space, required parking spaces, parking lot surface cover, and subdivision and land development ordinance design requirements.
“The Board had the opportunity to require Blue Mountain to revise its proposal to make it compatible with protecting the Appalachian Trail hiking experience,” said Ron Tipton, president and CEO of the ATC. “Instead, the Board decided to weaken zoning requirements that were intended to preserve the unique hiking experience provided by the Trail. We will appeal this decision and use the legal means necessary to achieve the appropriate outcome that will protect the Appalachian Trail.”
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,190 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, please visit appalachiantrail.org.
Media Contact: Jordan Bowman
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Email: [email protected]