ROXBURY, NJ – A $4 million “treetop adventure course” with zip-lines and catwalks - built on a Ledgewood hillside last year - is unlikely to open for business anytime soon thanks to state regulations and bureaucratic backlog, said a company official.
The FLG X New Jersey Adventure Course received final approval Monday by the Roxbury Zoning Board. The project, on about 45 acres of woods above Mt. Arlington-Ledgewood road, was first approved by the township in 2012, but was postponed as the land changed ownership.
Representatives of the current site owners, including FLG X principal Michael Coffman, said the project could begin welcoming customers almost immediately if it wasn’t for the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA).
The same division of the DCA that regulates amusement parks needs to issue a permit for the treetop adventure project. In November 2019, a DCA spokesman told TAPinto Roxbury that the state expected to complete its review of the project until January of this year.
Stymied by the 'American Dream'
But Coffman, on Monday, said he doesn’t think his application is even close to receiving a preliminary review and Roxbury Township Planner Russell Stern said he was told the DCA’s inspectors are tied up working on the American Dream project in East Rutherford.
“The big issue at this point is obtaining DCA approval,” Stern told the board. “But the State of New Jersey has its hands full with American Dream. I guess this will occur afterwards ... We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
Coffman said he sent the DCA a 500-page application about 14 months ago. In response, the DCA sent him queries that appeared to be related to amusement park rides, such as roller coasters, and had little to do with zip lines and walkways suspended between trees, he said.
FLG X and township officials have tried a number of different approaches to pushing the DCA to review the project. “They (the DCA) flat-out said, ‘We’re overworked,’” Coffman said.
So, on a night when he should have been happy, having secured final approval from township officials, Coffman said he felt quite the opposite.
“My feeling now is, I’m sad,” he said. “We have this thing ready to go. I have no idea how long it’s going to be now. Is it a month? Two months? A year?”
At the zoning board meeting, Coffman assured the owners of several adjacent properties that the FLG X New Jersey Adventure Course will be a good neighbor once it gets up and running. He said it will not operate after dusk (with 9 p.m. on clear, summer nights being the latest closing time) and no music will be played.
Traffic on their narrow road is a big concern for Mt-Arlington-Ledgewood Road residents.
Vehicles to the site are being directed to enter and exit from the Howard Boulevard side only. Motorists who try to get there by driving up Mt. Arlington-Ledgewood Road from Route 46 encounter No Left Turn signs at the park’s entrance.
Resident Lynne Pinto said the plans for the project should have included a traffic light at the “dangerous” Mt. Arlington-Ledgewood Road intersection. She also remained concerned about young people sneaking onto the property and getting hurt or in trouble.
On Sunday, about 30 Roxbury fire and emergency medical personnel toured the project. In addition to being given “a complete overview” of the proposed operations, the first-responders “witnessed the different courses available to the public as well as a demonstration by staff on how the public is trained prior to participating on an actual course,” wrote Roxbury Fire Official/Safety Officer Michael Pellek in a letter to Stern.
While the DCA hasn’t shown up, and the neighbors are wary, Pellek had only good things to say about the project.
“After today, I would rest assured that this new adventure course and the staff is most professional and trained to the extreme and more than capable to operate this course within the Township of Roxbury while keeping the members of the public as safe as possible,” wrote Pellek.
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