RA zipline gets nod

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – Racers have zipped over the Road America track for decades, and soon visitors will be able to zip – line – over a part of the grounds.

The Plymouth Town Board Tuesday approved a conditional use permit to allow Road America to install a racing zipline course.

The 1,200-foot long double line will run between a pair of towers over the corporate display area.

“We think this is a good idea, another way to expand our business,” Road America Director of Track Operations Greg Wieser told the board.

The ziplines will not go over any of the 4-mile racetrack circuit at Road America, Wieser explained.

Mike Hanley of Aerial Adventures in Lake Geneva, which will build and operate the zipline at Road America, outlined for board members what ziplining is.

“It’s a way to get from point A to point B on a steel cable,” Hanley related. “The rider is wearing a full body harness and is attached by steel pulleys to a steel cable.”

The starting platform will be 45 feet off the ground and the finish platform will be 30 feet, with riders reaching speeds of 40 to 45 mph during the 1,200-foot long ride, according to Hanley.

“Ziplining is a safe, albeit exhilarating experience,” Hanley assured the board. He noted that Aerial Adventures operates three zip lines at Lake Geneva and, in five years of operation, has never had a single claim.

Road America officials assured the board that there would be no floodlights on the zipline course and that they don’t anticipate operating it at night, due to visibility concerns. They also said that the operation will not create any excessive noise.

“We want to be able to operate it while displays are going on,” below where the line will run, Wieser said.

“Which makes a great point of reference for the rider,” added Hanley.

Wieser said Road America is viewing the zip lines as an enhancement to the corporate and group events they host throughout the racing season.

The board also heard a proposal for another business venture from Green Tree Road resident Brian Niemi.

Niemi told the board he was recently married in a barn on his property and that he would like to fix up the barn and rent it out to other couples for weddings.

“Believe it or not, there is a great demand for it,” Niemi said of barn weddings. “We just want to share the barn with other people, other couples. It is hard to find around here.”

“You can get married in my barn,” Supervisor Roger Rortvedt joked.

“But is it clean,” Niemi responded.

Niemi said he did not anticipate hosting more than a couple of weddings a month. “I don’t want to get too big. I’m not going to quit my day job.”

He said wedding activities would end around 10 or 11 p.m.

Niemi said he is working with an architect who will ensure that the barn renovations will meet state codes.

Town Attorney Jim Hughes suggested that Niemi would need a conditional use permit for his operation.

“It sounds like a fairly limited use, not a full-time business,” Hughes observed. He said a conditional use permit would require a public hearing before the board and would allow public comment on the proposal.

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