After two months and three public hearings, residents who want to voice their opinions on the proposed Ridgefield Winter Club (RWC) at 340 Peaceable Street will finally get the chance Tuesday, Oct. 30.

The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of East Ridge Middle School, and conclude around 10:15.

Planning and Zoning Director Richard Baldelli said the plan is to allow public comments through the entire meeting.

Anywhere from 25 to 50 residents are expected to speak.

The club’s proposal has galvanized townspeople on both sides. Yellow signs protesting the club and encouraging residents to “protect residential zoning” have appeared on front lawns throughout town, and in neighboring Lewisboro, N.Y.

The commission has received 467 letters both for and against the club, and from cities as far away as Greenwich and Chicago.

Intervention and rebuttal

Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti said the the club will likely have a chance to respond to comments, feedback and the commission’s peer review questions at a meeting Tuesday, Nov. 13, in East Ridge Middle School.

Also at that proposed Nov. 13 meeting, the commission plans to decide on whether to accept an intervention pleading filed by Jeff and Jenn Hansen. The Old South Salem Road couple have led the Peaceable Neighbors Alliance, a resistance organization of neighbors opposed to the RWC project, since July 2017.  

Mucchetti said meeting plans are still in flux, and could change in the future.

The club’s rebuttal to the commission’s peer review question was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 30, meeting.

Attorney Bob Jewell, who represents the applicant Bud Brown, indicated he was fine with the change in schedule.

“We want to make sure our final comments incorporate all of the questions and concerns voiced at the hearing. We obviously can’t do that until those voices are heard,” he said in an email on Thursday, Oct. 18.

The commission will not use a sign-up sheet for those who wish to speak.

Frustration

Jeff Hansen said the number of people prepared to speak is lower than the number that would have been able to on the hearings opening night on Sept. 4, because residents against the club have had family and work obligations in the intervening two months.

“The process has been quite frustrating,” Hansen told The Press. “The applicant has and continues to make misleading statements.”

He raised questions about testimony by the club’s sound expert that the noise level from the club would be less than ambient noise already produced at the site.

“We found out that the ambient noise that he recorded was traffic and birds. We know that on top of that will be the rink noise and the parking lot noise,” Hansen said Wednesday, Oct. 17.

He also took issue with a statement by lighting engineer Mike Mahoney, who said that ice on the planned hockey rink would absorb light from the planned 40-foot high light poles that will illuminate the rink at night, and the number of light fixtures that would be installed on the poles.

Response

Asked about Hansen’s comments, Al Al Maiorino of Public Strategy Group, the PR firm hired by the club, said the club “continue[s] to be encouraged by the outpouring of support for the RWC from families across Ridgefield.

“We look forward to replacing an old commercial property with a beautiful and unique, wintertime premier facility that will also bring new jobs and increased tax revenue to our town,” he added