‘Neighborhood’ alliances unite to protect residential zoning, oppose skate club

A pair of local organizations — Ridgefield Neighborhood Preservation Alliance (RNPA) and Peaceable Neighbors Alliance (PNA) — have unified to support each other in a fight against commercial development in residentially-zoned areas.

The RNPA, which was formed in 2016 by Ridgefield residents concerned about the potential opening of Mountainside Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center at the historic Sunset Hall property on Old West Mountain Road, will help with the PNA’s application to amend Section 3.2.C.3 of the Ridgefield Zoning Regulations to delete “private clubs” as permitted uses by special permit in residential neighborhoods.

The application was submitted in late June following a series pre-submission concept meetings between the Planning and Zoning Commission and developer Bud Brown, who aims to create a skate club at the former Pinchbeck property on 340 Peaceable Street.

“In January of 2017, Mountainside withdrew its application after Ridgefield residents successfully convinced them that a residentially zoned neighborhood was not the appropriate location for a commercial business,” said RPNA spokesperson Catherine Neligan Monday, Aug. 21.

“Once again, we are faced with a town-wide issue regarding large-scale commercial business use in a residentially-zoned neighborhood,” she said. “We feel that this is a similar situation to the one we faced with Mountainside, in which a commercial business is attempting to make its home in the middle of a residentially-zoned neighborhood with great cost to the neighbors, both financially and in terms of quality of life.”  

Byron Brooks, an RNPA founding member, added that he didn’t object to a skate club opening in Ridgefield.

“The opposition lies in the applicant’s choice of location,” he said. “There are many appropriate commercially-zoned locations in Ridgefield where a skate club would be welcome. A residentially-zoned neighborhood, and someone’s backyard, is not one of them.”

Neligan said that private club special permits are currently allowed in Ridgefield, but that most private club permits generally preceded the actual development of the neighborhood, “or have not employed the drastic overreach of the intended use of the private club special permit that we see in this application.”  

“Consequently, the Peaceable Neighbors are fighting their own battle to retain the ‘landscape’ of their neighborhood, but they have also decided to address the larger issue at personal expense to protect all of Ridgefield’s neighborhoods,” she added. “They have filed an application to eliminate the use of ‘private clubs’ as special permits in Ridgefield."  

The application will receive public hearing at the Planning and Zoning Commission’s meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5.