Zoning commission questions Winter Club’s sound, light experts
How much sound does a hockey puck make when it hits the glass?
Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission repeatedly pressed experts hired for the Ridgefield Winter Club application on that point Tuesday, Oct. 16.
Around 100 people showed up to the auditorium at East Ridge Middle School for the third hearing on Ridgefielder Bud Brown’s proposal to put a private skating club at 340 Peaceable Street. As with the two previous hearings on Sept. 4 and Sept. 25, there was no time left over for public comment after expert testimony ran to about 10:15 p.m.
Vice Chairman Joe Fossi, who was running the meeting with Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti absent, said that public comment would be the first item on the agenda at the fourth public hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
He said he expects public comment to run for the entire meeting.
Jeff Hansen, an Old South Salem Road resident who has opposed the development since July 2017, said the hearing process has been “quite frustrating.”
“The applicant has and continued to make misleading statements,” he told The Press.
Ten experts spoke Tuesday night — five representing the club, and five peer-review experts hired by the town to review the application and provide suggestions for improvements.
The seven members of the commission — commissioner Bob Cascella recused himself from reviewing or voting on the Winter Club application — questioned the applicant’s light and sound experts.
The club’s sound expert, Edward Potenta of Potenta Environmental Consultants, said that the current noise at the site is greater than it would be with a hockey rink.
He also said that the sound of a hockey puck striking the plexiglass rink wall wouldn’t be noticeable because it lasts “a fraction of a second,” but commissioners disagreed.
“That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t annoy the hell out of anyone who heard it,” said commissioner John Katz.
Commissioner Mark Zeck pressed Potenta on how many puck strikes could be expected in a typical game, something Potenta said he could not comment on.
“At this time I’m just trying to get an understanding of what the noise situation will be,” Zeck said.
Hansen also raised issue with Potenta’s statements made by the club’s sound expert.
“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.
Hansen wasn’t alone in questioning Potenta’s statements.
“Noise will be less than they are today after project completion?” asked commissioner Mark Zeck during the hearing.
On rink lighting, commissioner Charles Robbins asked the club’s lighting expert, Mike Mahoney of Musco Lighting, repeatedly if the proposed lighting is currently being used at another ice-skating facility elsewhere in Fairfield County.
Mahoney said that Greenwich Skating Club uses lighting in the same family, but that the lighting poles are shorter and use lower-power bulbs due to the town zoning rules — a statement that drew murmurs from the crowd.
Hansen, whose property abuts the proposed club, has organized neighbors opposed to the club into a group called the Peaceable Neighbors Alliance (PNA).
He was also skeptical of Mahoney’s testimony that suggested the club’s outdoor skating rink would not have light glare.
“The white ice will absorb most of the light and not reflect it — that was a little hard to hear,” said Hansen.
Bob Jewell, the club’s land use attorney, said that the club would present a schedule of activities at the next public hearing. He downplayed the noise generated by hockey games, and said they would be member-only games.
“This is not the type of hockey rink that a lot of people think it is, this is a social club,” he said.
“We’re not going to have a whole lot of hockey kids and hockey moms screaming and yelling out there.”