Letter: Protecting residential zoning

To the Press:

Ridgefield’s residential neighborhoods deserve and need protecting. With letters and lawn signs, homeowners have been asking P&Z to do just that. Next week, this discussion goes “live,” at P&Z’s September meeting Tuesday, Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. at East Ridge Middle School.

It is no accident that the Winter Club has targeted Ridgefield. Discussed at a P&Z meeting last year, nearby towns would not consider allowing a project like this in a residentially-zoned neighborhood. Yet that is precisely what the developer seeks here.   

The Winter Club’s marketing campaign, created in Boston, portrays the club as a “wonderful addition to our community.” Comparisons have been suggested between the ice rink and a community ballfield. The developer’s proposal, however, shows something very different.

To name a few problems with the comparison, no ballfield includes a 12,500-square-foot clubhouse with fully equipped kitchen and bar, bowling alleys and party rooms. No ballfield has the long hours of operation planned for the Winter Club or requires expansive and intrusive lighting to operate before daylight and after dark. No ballfield in our town is reserved for the exclusive use of a small number of high-paying members, most or many of whom will not be Ridgefielders at all.

Plans also include a barrier 16-foot tall to ensure privacy for Winter Club activities.  Environmental and traffic concerns are serious as well.

Since P&Z rejected a proposal to eliminate Ridgefield’s private club exemption, the chickens have come home to roost. By turning out for next week’s meeting, homeowners can demonstrate that Ridgefielders know better than a developer and PR agency what Ridgefield needs. Protecting our neighborhoods is vital and it is P&Z’s most important responsibility. Let’s send the message together that Ridgefield’s citizens are watching this henhouse.

Ron Shirk

Peaceable Street, Aug. 27