Several proposals for pickleball courts are currently under consideration by various town boards and commissions in Westport, Connecticut.
This bureaucracy has sparked a dialogue between proponents of the sport and concerned neighbors, who are primarily worried about the potential noise levels.
The sport, which has gained significant popularity due to the incredible enthusiasm of participants and spectators, is a local and nationwide concern.
Specifically, the town’s zoning regulations need to address pickleball, and there has been no initiative to rectify this.
As we have heard only too often recently, the demand for suitable playing venues far surpasses the capacity of existing town facilities. This has led to a clash between those advocating for the sport and neighbors of potential court locations.
As Thane Grauel reports for westportjournal.com, one contentious proposal currently under review by the Parks and Recreation Commission involves establishing six pickleball courts at Longshore Club Park. However, a recent discussion on this matter was postponed due to technical difficulties.
Concerns from neighbors revolve around the proposed court location, with some suggesting relocation within the park or to another town property.
Another proposition involves two courts at the Fairfield County Hunt Club on 174 Long Lots Road. The Planning and Zoning Commission discussed this proposal last week and will continue the conversation.
In October 2022, after several modifications, the Planning and Zoning Commission ultimately approved a plan for pickleball courts at Birchwood Country Club off Kings Highway South.
Conversely, a request for a variance to the Zoning Board of Appeals by a family on Old Hill Road has garnered exclusively positive feedback from neighbors.
The recent hearing by the Planning and Zoning Commission on the Hunt Club application did not receive a warm reception from neighbors or, it seems, commission members. It has been deferred to October 16.
Lauren Karpf, a Representative Town Meeting member from District 7, voiced her concerns during the hearing:
“The sound carries in a very odd way,” she said. “I hear the amplified music, and it’s constant from the Hunt Club, and the horse shows in the back of my house. I don’t hear it from the front of my house as much.”
She added, “Measuring sound levels from the front might give true readings.”
She pointed out the difference between the Hunt Club application and the Birchwood Country Club plan, emphasizing the residential setting of the former.
Karpf suggested that, if approved, the P&ZC should limit play hours, deeming fourteen hours a day in the summer excessive.
Commission member Patrizia Zucaro concurred, stating that 7 a.m. playtime was unreasonably early.
Walter Derish of Sprucewood Court echoed these sentiments, expressing concerns about the proximity of pickleball courts to his living space and its potential impact on his ability to entertain guests and enjoy his yard.
John Fallon, the lawyer representing the applicant, argued for consistency between the Hunt Club application and the previously approved Birchwood plan.
One Piece Of Good News
The Zoning Board of Appeals will deliberate on a request for a pickleball court at 63 Old Hill Road during its next online meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
The application, submitted by LandTech on behalf of James Coyne for a court within a side setback, has garnered unanimous support from neighbors, per records from the Planning and Zoning Department.
One neighboring supporter, Michael S. Sachs, voiced confidence in the Coynes’ property maintenance and consideration for neighbors. He unequivocally endorsed their application for the variance.
Similarly, Rob Simmelkjaer of 6 Side Hill Road expressed support for the construction of the pickleball court, citing confidence in the Coynes’ responsible land management.
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