The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-to-3 in favor of drafting a special permit for Sacred Waters LLC, a proposed pond-dredging service located at 6 Clearview Drive, at its Sept. 19 meeting. It was the second time homeowner John Keegan applied for a special permit for a \u201cmajor home occupation\u201d \u2014 a home business \u2014 from the commission. In June, the commission rejected what was a substantially similar application after neighbors turned up to the hearing with concerns that Keegan\u2019s equipment, including a 22-foot pontoon boat, was causing neighborhood blight. The decision to approve Keegan\u2019s latest application came after a contentious public hearing, in which nine residents spoke \u2014 all but one of them opposing Keegan\u2019s plan to store his pond-dredging equipment on his property. \u201cNothing has changed,\u201d said Jeffrey Londona, whose property sits adjacent to the proposed business. He argued that the roads are too narrow for Keegan\u2019s truck, and said that school buses do not drive up to pick children up at their houses, because of the width of the roads. Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti pointed out that UPS vans and oil trucks are permitted to use the roads. Hidden But attorney Bob Jewell, who represented Keegan, said that the truck is no bigger than his own midsize SUV. It is not registered as a commercial vehicle, Jewell said. Under the terms drafted in the special permit, Keegan agreed to continue putting up a fence and add plantings to block his neighbors\u2019 view of the boat and other equipment. He has also constructed a small shed on the property to store other equipment. Unless someone is flying overhead in a hot-air balloon, stands nine-feet tall, or is peering through a crack in the fence while trespassing on Keegan\u2019s property \u201cyou would never know this was here,\u201d Jewell told the commission. He said the only reason the business requires a special permit is for storage of the boat \u2014 a 3,800-pound diesel pontoon craft with \u201ca big suction thing\u201d \u2014 Keegan uses to dredge the bottom of ponds. Jewell argued that surrounding properties on the lake had boats visible to passersby, and that boats litter the shores of the lake. In most cases, the town zoning rules allow a homeowner to run a small business or home office without a special permit. The property is too small for a garage to store the boat under the zoning regulations, Jewell said. \u00a0 Support Laura Stobel, a Lake Road resident, was the only neighbor who spoke in support of Keegan\u2019s plan. In comments that occasionally took aim at her fellow Rainbow Lake neighbors, Stobel said Keegan \u201cbent over backwards\u201d to make the property look acceptable. She alleged stories of neighbors \u201cgetting drunk together\u201d and committing acts of vandalism \u2014 some, she said, might have been present at the hearing. \u201cI don\u2019t want to see zoning rules and regulations used against one person \u2014 which is what I feel strongly is going on here tonight,\u201d Stobel said. \u2018Petrochemicals\u2019 Commissioner Tim Dunphy initially said he would not vote in favor of approving the special permit out of concern about the location, and the environmental impact of Keegan cleaning his equipment in the neighborhood. He said he was concerned the dredged material might contain \u201cinvasive species\u201d or \u201cpetrochemicals,\u201d that Keegan would rinse off his tools. But the commissioners said they would include a condition in the special permit that will restrict Keegan from washing or operating his equipment on the property. Keegan also agreed to transport the pontoon dredge on and off the site during weekday business hours \u2014 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Lynn Amler, a Lake Road resident whose husband owns another pond-dredging service on the opposite side of the lake, said that in their experience the business requires far more equipment than Keegan currently has. \u201cWe don\u2019t clean our equipment or bring it to our home ever,\u201d she told the commission. Jewell said that in the event Keegan ever needed to expand his inventory, they would come back for a revision or move the equipment to a new location. Keegan said he takes the boat on and off his property to a job two to three times a year. Other side of town Not all of the residents who opposed the special permit were Keegan\u2019s neighbors. Residents from the Peaceable Neighbors Alliance, a coalition of neighbors organized to protest the development of a private skating club on Peaceable Street, also showed up to speak against granting Keegan a special permit. Old South Salem Road resident Jenn Hansen said that when she drove through the neighborhood, she noticed that the houses \u201care extremely close together,\u201d and that Keegan\u2019s equipment is \u201cunsightly for the neighbors.\u201d \u201cCommercial businesses do not belong in residential neighborhoods,\u201d she said, drawing applause from the audience. Her husband, Jeff Hansen, spoke next and alluded to the proposed Ridgefield Winter Club in a statement that \u201cvague regulations\u201d from the commission \u201callow residents to be tortured\u201d by commercial businesses. Stobel, who questioned why residents were showing up from the other side of town to speak against Keegan\u2019s special permit, said the property on Rainbow Lake sits about seven miles away from the disputed site of the proposed winter club. Vote Most of the commissioners said they were swayed to vote in favor of granting the special permit because of Keegan\u2019s efforts to clean up the property and hide his equipment. The commission also approved waiving the fees for Keegan\u2019s application after Jewell said he should have asked for an extension at the last hearing. Commissioner George Hanlon opened deliberations with an emotional recollection of how his own father supported his family with a small business growing up. He said he felt Keegan had \u201cdone everything he can\u201d to make the equipment fit in the neighborhood. Commissioner John Katz, who voted against the application in June, stuck with his vote again. While he said he supports small businesses, he saw no mention that fencing should be considered as part of a special permit application. \u201cThe point of a special permit is it takes into consideration the specificity of the location in which it lies,\u201d he said.