No rush to build field in wake of court decision
Wilton Youth Football is in no rush to build a new field just because a superior court judge has dismissed a Wilton resident’s appeal of a Planning and Zoning Commission decision regarding installation of an artificial turf field at Middlebrook School. The decision was handed down April 18.
Jeff Siegel, president of Wilton Youth Football, said the town promised the group an alternate plan for one or more turf fields, and members are waiting on that plan before making any decision. Depending on the location of those fields, the cost and the timing, the alternate plan could be an option.
“If we end up proceeding with Middlebrook, we still need to work with the town on a permanent lighting variance to illuminate the fields and keep the kids safe,” Siegel said, pointing out that the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the field but not the permanent lighting the group wanted.
The games went on, despite the lawsuit.
“While we located temporary lights for Middlebrook that comply with current town regulations, we were able to work with the town last year on a solution at the high school field complex that met everyone’s needs. I’m hopeful that we can continue to work with the town on a solution that works for all involved,” Siegel said.
William and Eliot Patty of Ridgefield Road filed suit Nov. 17, 2015. They appealed a decision made by the commission on Oct. 13, 2015, when it approved Wilton Youth Football’s application for an amendment to an existing special permit and for site plan approval to renovate town-owned Middlebrook Field’s natural grass to artificial turf.
They argued the commission acted illegally and arbitrarily and that Wilton Youth Football lacked standing to submit the application. They also claimed the application did not comply with the town’s zoning regulations.
The appeal was heard in Stamford Superior Court on Dec. 20, 2016.
As for Wilton Youth Football having standing to submit the application, Judge Irene Jacobs’ decision said that because the organization has been actively running youth football programs and activities at the school for years with the Parks and Recreation Commission, it has an interest in the property sufficient to have standing.
Wilton Youth Football’s standing was further bolstered by the fact that then First Selectman Bill Brennan authorized legal firm Gregory and Adams, on behalf of the sports organization, to make the application to the Planning and Zoning Commission.