Letter: What, exactly, is a private club?

To the Editor:

Beware Ridgefield residents, your neighborhood could be next. You may not realize it, but the zoning regulations can allow high intensity uses that are commercial in nature in many residential areas, with just a special permit. If property next door to your home is sold, the purchaser can apply for a special permit and build things such as municipal storage buildings, refuse disposal facilities, firehouses, schools or structures for “recreational uses” such as “private clubs.”

However, the regulations have no standards for what exactly is a “private club.”  An amusement park that has a membership fee like a gym or Costco could still be considered a “private club.” Indeed, even a large, corporate-owned, for-profit “recreational” operation could be considered a “private club.”

Uses like these belong in commercially-zoned areas, not in residential areas. When you bought your Ridgefield home, I’m sure you weren’t expecting a loud, intrusive commercial operation to be built next door. Unfortunately, our town is becoming overbuilt and overdeveloped and zoning regulations like these make it relatively easy for developers to build intrusive commercial facilities in your neighborhood. We all have so much invested in our homes. No one wants to see their hard work and emotional investment degraded by having commercial development suddenly appear next door.

This type of situation is currently threatening the neighborhood on lower Peaceable Street. A country nursery on three-acre residentially-zoned land could be replaced by a private club with an outdoor ice/hockey rink, clubhouse and outbuilding. Our zoning regulations need to be changed to place limits on these recreational uses and “private clubs” in residentially-zoned areas of the town. We have the power and ability as Ridgefield taxpayers and voters to see to it that these regulations are changed.

Linda Bauer