Baseball field gets hearing Tuesday

Concerned about player safety and increased traffic, neighbors remained steady in their opposition as the second hearing for a proposed Little League baseball field approaches.

The field, which would be at the intersection of Route 7 and Simpaug Road, will be up for debate again in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission at a continued public hearing Tuesday, June 6.

It would have six LED lights to extend game and practice time, as well as a PA speaker to be used for special games and tournaments — no later than 8:59 p.m., to comply with town and state noise regulations.

At a May 16 hearing, neighbors were concerned that the experts hired were downplaying traffic, noise, and lighting impact after hearing presentations from the applicant’s engineer and developer.

The experts outlined minimal changes to traffic patterns on Route 7 and low accident rates — five reported in the last three years and nine months — as well as noise levels that would stay under regulations. They also highlighted lighting technology that would not be a disturbance to nearby properties.

Jennifer Keyes, a neighbor on the Redding side of the field, said she is still opposed to the location of the field.

She told The Press Tuesday, May 30, that she doesn’t know of anyone who has changed his or her mind after the first hearing.

“I feel that there has been a lack of discussion around the actual placement of the field,” she said.

“The applicants have talked a lot about the merits of the field, but there has been almost no discussion in the broader public arena around how close this is to Route 7.”

Whose road is it?

Light, traffic and noise were not the only concerns presented at the least hearing.

Peter Olson, an attorney representing residents Phil and Claire Bronson, said during the last hearing May 16 that the field’s application was inadmissible.

“The State of Connecticut must approve in writing any construction in this site,” he said. “I have not seen any letter from the DEEP indicating that they’ve reviewed these plans and approve these structures.”

He said this was due to the fact that Ridgefield doesn’t actually have ownership of the road through which Simpaug Turnpike runs.

“We know that Simpaug Company Turnpike built the road in 1834 and there was a Supreme Court decision that they could build bridges, etc.,” he said.

“Based on this, our argument is that the town of Ridgefield does not own the land which Simpaug runs and does not have standing to apply and should withdraw application.”

Bob Jewell, the Little League’s attorney, told The Press that they will be contesting Olson’s claims at the hearing next Tuesday.

“The town had a search done in August 2016 that verified that the roads in this area are in fact town roads,” he said. “As such, the town has the absolute right to grant permission for a public project like this.”

Jewell said that they will be submitting evidence that the town owns the roads and that Simpaug Company Turnpike ownership was dissolved by a statute in the Connecticut Legislature — stating that all discontinued turnpikes will remain public highways in the towns which they are in.

The continued hearing will be held at the Town Hall Annex at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 6.