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Friday, July 31, 2009

P&Z Clears Way for Staples Lights

UPDATE The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission tonight cleared the way for permanent lights for the Staples High School football field with conditions.

The six to one approval of text language that would allow for a special permit to be issued for the lights came after an earlier informal survey of members by Chairman Ron Corwin to see whether they should proceed to approve the town’s application for lights on the field—a longtime controversial subject.

Only commission member Ellie Lowenstein indicated she was not in favor of approval under any conditions, and she later voted against the text amendment.

Many neighbors of Staples High School had testified in opposition of the application, as they had in previous years, saying the lights and noise were inappropriate for a residential area.

“My point of view on this is that it is time to bring lights to Westport for Friday night football,” Corwin said.

“I agree…that the evidence is overwhelming that though it is less than ideal for some near neighbors, the greater good is really and truly served in terms of community spirit, community events, and things for our kids to do on a Friday night.

“And I think that this is one tough step for this community, but I think it is the right step, and I think with the appropriate conditions, we can mitigate the impact and that the Town of Westport will be better served by having these kind of activities.”

The commission spent considerable time on a long list of conditions that would have to be met in order for a special permit to be issued for the lights. These included restrictions on the number of events that could be played, the permitted hours, and such things as restrictions on the use of amplified sound.

It was not immediately clear what impact the commission’s action had on a companion request that temporary lights be permitted for fall practices by the PAL football organization at the field behind Saugatuck Elementary School.

Commission members indicated they expected their decision would probably be appealed to the Representative Town Meeting which, under the town charter, could overturn the commission’s action by a two-thirds majority.


Posted 07/31/09 at 01:23 AM  Permalink


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I shudder to think what will happen this time when United Illuminating wants to put a nuclear power plant on Cockenoe Island.

Posted by Stacy Prince on July 31, 2009 at 03:45 AM | #

(Not going for hyperbole here; it just seems Westport never says no. Oh, yeah, except to that nursery school whose presence on Route 57 would have been a problem.)

Posted by Stacy Prince on July 31, 2009 at 03:50 AM | #

“Although it is less than ideal for neighbors, it is good for community spirit.”

When did the P&Z;become the community spirit committee?  That explains a lot.

Posted by Michael Stuttman on July 31, 2009 at 12:46 PM | #

Why does this neighborhood have to endure the addition of strong night lights and amplified sound to the steady drone of the Merritt and other heavily traveled roads, airplanes roaring above and polluted air from coal-burning plants to our west?  We may not be able to protect our town from all blight, but we can certainly refuse to add to the degredation of our environment with this.  I thought there was a law entitling owners to “peaceful enjoyment” of their property.  Real community spirit would protect the quality of life for all residents.

Posted by Nina Streitfeld on July 31, 2009 at 02:47 PM | #

I love the idea of community spirit through the medium of Friday night football.  It is hard for me to believe that someone actually believes that can be an outcome of lighting a field. 

I am quite concerned about the quality and maintenance of the lighting installation.  I have heard from a lighting expert that the proposed installation was completely inadequate.  I can only hope for the best.

Sports survives all comers.

Posted by Tom Green on July 31, 2009 at 03:50 PM | #

I wonder how many residents who supported the placement of 80 foot poles, each with 16 lights which illuminate the field as much as daylight, actually live right next to the playing field?

How many supporters of this amendment will attend the sports event, then drive home elsewhere?

How many devoted high school football players will graduate in four short years, leaving the immediate neighbors of the school disturbed by the lights and noise for many more years to come?

Posted by Carol Mueller on July 31, 2009 at 10:30 PM | #

P&Z;saying yes to things that would seem to be not permitted by the zoning regs? Welcome to my world - now, if you had a game EVERY NIGHT until 11:00, that would fairly replicate the lighting in the parking areas at the new YMCA facility proposed for the AAA residential, supposedly rural (north of the blue line) Mahackeno site.

Next, the residents of High Point Road will be accused of being a bunch of noisy NIMBY types who don’t have the best interests of the Town in mind for suggesting that this negatively impacts their enjoyment of their property and property values. As a fellow resident of this Town, I offer my apologies.

Posted by Jack Whittle on July 31, 2009 at 10:56 PM | #

why spend unnessacary money on lights when we just had a budget cut in education?
the money should have been put into the budget

Posted by Paul Van Zanten on August 10, 2009 at 03:04 AM | #

Mr. Corwin’s logic is illogical. It seems Westport has survived all these years without “Friday Night Lights” and we have plenty of community spirit. Mr. Corwin’s statement that the thought of inconveniencing a few neighbors for the greater good of the community is ridiculous…this is not a life safety issue. Why are we spending money on lights when money has been cut from the educational budget to help balance our town budget… How much will it cost to maintain these lights? As Jack Whittle suggests…this really does impact the neighbors quality of life and property values. My apologies also. The best way to effect change will be at the voters booth!

Posted by Jamie Walsh on August 11, 2009 at 03:53 PM | #