Boone Creek Outdoors

Posted by: Richard Young

The ISSue:

Boone Creek Outdoors is a proposed zipline and outdoor recreational area, on 167 acres in Fayette County that is owned by Burgess Carey. It has been the subject of a 6-year legal fight about allowing recreational tourism within Fayette County. 


Arguments in favor:

  • Boone Creek Outdoors' Zipline is permitted as a conditional use in the LFUCG Zoning Ordinance
  • The zipline could set precedent for and encourage more agriculture-based tourism in the area
  • Could provide revenue to the city through taxation
  • The zipline would open up the land to the public, and prevent traditional development

Arguments against:

  • Ziplines are only permitted as a conditional use in the LFUCG Zoning Ordinance
  • Boone Creek is a natural area deemed as significant by the Lexington-Fayette County Rural Land Management Plan, and should be conserved
  • The facility would encourage too much activity on the land - including "up to 250 visitors per day, buses and bus parking, a farm store, farm tours, educational classes, ziplines, sky bridges, a rappel station, ladders and platforms"
  • Some of the surrounding landowners say that it's use would be incongruent with the uses of their properties - mostly thoroughbred horse farms


  • 1994 - Mr. Carey began purchases land along the Kentucky Palisades, and cleaned the area, which housed leaky fuel tanks from a truck stop.
  • 2000 - Mr. Carey began to operate a private fishing club on the land.
  • 2011 - Mr. Carey purchases additional land, begins construction of the aerial canopy tour system (zipline), and begins work on "Boone Creek Outdoors". It must be brought before the Board of Adjustments to get a conditional use permit.
  • December 2011 - Mr. Carey brings the matter before Board of Adjustments - hearing is so contentious it is rescheduled for January.
  • January 2012 - Mr. Carey brought the matter before the Board of Adjustment, and it was rejected 4-0. Mr. Carey's appeals the decision.
  • February 2013 - Mr. Carey drops broader plans for Boone Creek Outdoors and focuses on the zipline course - which he begins operating, despite being being told by the city he was in violation of the LFUCG zoning ordinance.
  • March 2013 - LFUCG gives Mr. Carey 30 days to cease operations before it will begin fining him, Mr. Carey continues operating zipline as a private fundraiser for a legal defense fund.
  • May 2013 - A LFUCG work group recommends banning all ziplines and outdoor recreational actives (including campgrounds, hiking and biking trails, canoeing and kayaking tours, and country inns and museums).
  • July 2013 - Board of Adjustment hears Mr. Carey's appeal, and determines he should cease operations. Mr. Carey appeals again, but a judge demands he cease operations.
  • November 2013 - Mr. Carey applies for a zone change from "agricultural rural" zoning to "agricultural natural" zoning and files for a conditional use permit.
  • March 2014 - LFUCG's Planning Commission does not hear Mr. Carey's within the required 90 days, and he files suit against the city to allow him to seek the conditional use permit.
  • July 2014 - Judge requires that LFUCG's Planning Commission hear Mr. Carey's case.
  • September 2014 - LFUCG Planning Commission denies Mr. Carey's application on a 5-5 vote.
  • July 2016 - LFUCG Planning and Public Works Committee votes 7-2 to change the zoning ordinance to include canopy tours as a conditional use in "agricultural natural" zone.
  • October 2016 - LFUCG Planning Commission votes unanimously to approve Mr. Carey's zone change to "agricultural natural" and approves his conditional use permit.

  • January 2017 - LFUCG City Council votes 9-1 to approve Mr. Carey's zone change and conditional use permit.



Area Impacted


Relevant Legislation

  • LFUCG Zoning Ordinance
  • LFUCG Rural Land Management Plan

Players Involved:


  • Burgess Carey - Property Owner; Business Owner, Boone Creek Outdoors
  • Dick Murphy - Attorney, Boone Creek Outdoors
  • Don Todd - Attorney for Opposition
  • Kathy Plomin - Councilperson for the District

How to get involved:

  • Contact LFUCG Planning Department: (859) 258-3160
  • Contact your council member

Speak through CivicLex:

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