Routt County commissioner has strong words for Steamboat zip line business owner who violated county rules
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The owner of a Routt County zip line course is apologizing and trying to get his business back off the ground after he lost his permit this winter for breaking parking rules and creating what one elected official called a dangerous traffic situation.
When Jason Cobb applied for his business permit for the Steamboat Zipline Adventures course on Rabbit Ears Pass, he told the county that all of his guests would take a shuttle up to the business because it lacked a controlled access point off U.S. Highway 40.
But after someone saw guests driving to the course themselves and parking along the highway back in 2016, they raised concerns with the Colorado Department of Transportation about potential safety hazards.
The speed limit in the area is 50 miles per hour, and there are no turn lanes.
The county also noticed a sign the business had put up directing visitors to the course.
The county’s planning staff said Cobb ignored their letters, phone calls and emails about how he wasn’t complying with the parking and access restrictions that were placed on his business permit.
In November, the county’s planning commission voted to strip Cobb of his conditional use permit because of the non-compliance.
On Tuesday, Cobb went to the Routt County commissioners to ask for permission to keep the zip lines up while he worked on a new application for a permit.
Cobb apologized to the commissioners and acknowledged he “dropped the ball” by not communicating with the county about the parking issue.
But one commissioner didn’t think Cobb’s apology was sufficient, and he questioned whether Cobb could be trusted to keep the zip lines up without using them while the business still didn’t have a permit.
Commissioner Tim Corrigan said Cobb knowingly violated the conditions of approval for his business and left the sign up even after the county’s planning department informed him of the violation.
“I was disturbed when I came down off Rabbit Ears Pass and saw the sign there,” Corrigan told Cobb.
Corrigan said he attempted to make the left turn into the business to investigate further.
“But there was traffic coming uphill, and traffic coming downhill (without a turn lane), and I ended up being in a dangerous traffic situation because of your sign,” Corrigan continued. “You decided not to take it down because you needed it for your business. That is beyond totally unacceptable.”
Cobb told the planning commission in the winter that he realized his business model relying only on the shuttles would not work because most of his clients came to the area with cars and wanted to drive to the course themselves.
The commissioners voted unanimously to allow Cobb to keep the zip lines up while he worked on his new application, which will have to address the parking and access issues.
Corrigan said he “reluctantly” voted in favor of allowing Cobb to keep the zip lines in place for the time being.
Commissioner Doug Monger told Cobb he wouldn’t be open to the business adding a parking lot or the customer access Cobb has been promoting illegally.
“It’s in an awkward place,” Monger said of the business. “If you come in with an application for a parking lot right there and access right there, I don’t think you’re going to get approval from us.”
Cobb must submit a new application by June 1. If he doesn’t, the zip lines will have to come down by Oct. 1.
Cobb told the commissioners he wouldn’t let them down as he left the hearing.
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