Neighbors start petition against winter club

Opposition to a proposed winter club at 340 Peaceable Street — the former Peaceable Farm location near the Ridgefield-New York border — remains steady despite the fact a formal application has yet to be submitted to town planners.

Applicant Bud Brown and his attorney, Bob Jewell, met with town officials during a pre-application concept discussion Thursday, June 8.

Four days later, an online petition was started.

“We do not want the Ridgefield Winter Club built on 340 Peaceable Street in Ridgefield, CT. This land is zoned residential and should stay that way,” reads the petition. “Private clubs do not belong in residential areas.”

The digital document had garnered 233 signatures as of Press time Wednesday, and had dozens of comments from upset residents.  

“Peaceable is a very quiet neighborhood. Surrounding by beautiful nature. We have wetlands with all sort of animals, birds and amphibians. We need to protect it,” wrote Mimi Matra.

"Aside from the questionable business plan, this special permit sets a precedent for this property that is very difficult to undo," added Rob Kinnaird. "In its previous incarnation, the greenhouse had a very difficult time drawing customers from the area. That's why the business no longer exists.

"Does the concept of yet another bar-restaurant with sports amenities make sense?" he asked. "Look at Main Street Ridgefield. Juice bars, restaurants, yogurt places come and go annually. Just as Peaceable Farms was surrounded and done in by local competition, any food and sports enterprise will suffer the same fate. The difference with this proposal seems to be: y'gotta be rich to join.” When it tanks, it seems to me any good land use lawyer can get something else.

Brown, a Ridgefield resident, is proposing a winter club for 275 families, parking for 102 cars, an outdoor ice rink and a clubhouse with a restaurant and bar on the former Pinchbeck property. He is the founder of Nanook Hockey, a development program for young hockey players in Fairfield County.

The Planning and Zoning Commission hosted two additional pre-submission meetings for the application earlier this spring, with neighbors showing up with pins that read “Say No to Skate Club.”

“An establishment of this size and nature are not acceptable in the center of a residential neighborhood,” resident Cheryl Crowl wrote in the petition Tuesday.

Resident Lauri Stein-Jones said that the club's effect on "our family's quieter lifestyle and our property value would be negatively affected."
"I hope those that have the power to approve or dismiss a permit see this as a massive misuse/overstep of the permit process," she wrote. "As someone who loves progress and community improvement, I wonder, Are there abandoned business/commercial zoned properties in surrounding areas that could be revitalized?"