Planners deny 'private clubs' zoning amendment

Developers behind the proposed Ridgefield Winter Club on Peaceable Street received a victory Tuesday night when the town's Planning and Zoning Commission denied an amendment to the town's zoning laws that would have removed the term "private clubs" under the special permitted uses in residentially-zoned areas.

The commission moved to deny the amendment in a 8-1 vote after an almost two-hour long public hearing in the East Ridge Middle School auditorium.

Stephen Cole cast the only dissenting vote in favor of passing the amendment, which would have thwarted developer Bud Brown's plans to build a winter club at 340 Peaceable Street on the former Pinchbeck Nursery property.

The decision came after more than 30 members of the community voiced their support of the amendment. More than 100 town residents turned out at the hearing, most of whom seemed in favor of removing the phrase from Section 3.2.C.3 "Recreational Uses" of the Ridgefield Zoning Regulations. 

“Residents invest in this town, and deserve to have the value of their assets protected,” said Jeff Hansen, who proposed the amendment, at Tuesday's hearing. “No resident should have to worry about a large commercial entity being dropped next to their house.”

In a follow-up response to The Press Tuesday night, Hansen said the commission — which deliberated the amendment for about 40 minutes following the public comment period — didn't correctly interpret the proposed amendment.

"It appeared that most of what I said was lost on the commission during their post-hearing discussion," he said. "They were derailed by their interpretation that this was all about the Winter Club. When, in fact, they were primarily concerned with dropping a whole host of local clubs into nonconforming use."

For more on this story, pick up a copy of tomorrow's Ridgefield Press.