Monday\u2019s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting proved the Wilton community is sharply divided on the subject of new lighting regulations. A large outpouring of citizens, both in support of and against the liberalization of lighting regulations, came to a Sept. 23 public hearing to express their opinions. Sentiment regarding the proposed change occupied multiple tracks: those in favor of increased lighting at Middlebrook field, those opposed to increased lighting at Middlebrook field, and those opposed to liberalized lighting regulations in general. Acting as an applicant on behalf of Wilton Youth Football, Field Hockey, and Lacrosse earlier this month, the Gregory & Adams law firm filed a request to change current town zoning regulations as they relate to athletic field lighting. This request is identified by the commission as REG#13341. At the request\u2019s public hearing on Monday, Casey Healy, a representative of Gregory & Adams, told the Planning & Zoning Commission that he and his clients felt Wilton\u2019s lighting regulations should allow for the proper, professional, lighting of athletic facilities. \u201cThe town already has existing regulations that include outdoor lighting standards,\u201d he said. \u201cBut, those standards are really designed for other establishments. The regulations are adequate for a commercial parking lot, but do not meet industry standards for lighting athletic fields.\u201d The law firm hopes to change regulations so that 80-foot athletic light poles would be allowed on public property, or private property used institutionally, in any residential zone. Though the request to change lighting regulations is not site specific, representatives of Wilton youth sports groups at the meeting made it clear there was a motive behind their desire to change the regulations: increased lighting at the Middlebrook School football field. The president of Wilton Youth Field Hockey, Jennifer Kendra, told the commission Wilton children are hard-pressed to find suitable field time in town. She, and the 240 families she represents, she said, believe improving Middlebrook field would decrease their need to practice at other fields with lights late into the night. \u201cWhat we are talking about is a change to what is already currently approved,\u201d the president of Wilton Youth Field Hockey told the commission. \u201cThere are already lights on the field, and those lights are already more intrusive. The light and noises are already there. By improving this site, we will be able to use less light more efficiently. We would love to not be out at 9:30 at night with fifth and sixth graders.\u201d Whether or not the lights currently at Middlebrook School field are \u201capproved,\u201d as Ms. Kendra said, is an unanswered question. Opposition Not all residents felt an improved field would make for a less intrusive one. Will Paddy, of 174 Ridgefield Road, told the commission he already has to deal with the possibly illegal lighting at Middlebrook field, and worried about its increased use. \u201cEvery year that we\u2019ve lived here, youth football has used the lights three months of the year, so we never made a big stink about it. Now, it\u2019s going to be able to be used 12 months out of the year. I do not understand why we are not able to get our kids on the field [without additional lighting]. We have the facilities, we have the fields. Other towns are able to manage it. Somehow we aren\u2019t able to manage it. It doesn\u2019t seem to make a lot of sense,\u201d he said. Other residents echoed the concerns of Mr. Paddy, telling the commission the number of lighting facilities in Wilton is already high enough. An unverified statistical survey undertaken by Anthony LoFrisco, and his associate, Beck Parker, showed that Wilton had the highest number of lighted facilities when compared to every other Fairfield County town, regardless of population. He said his associate pulled this data \u201cfrom phone conversations and what is listed on municipal websites. Even if you took the Middlebrook field out, we\u2019d still have more lighted facilities than any other town. [Gregory & Adams\u2019s] consultant went far afield to make comparisons; to Illinois, or Arizona, or wherever. But, this is very close to home; there is a relevant issue for us to resolve,\u201d he said. Tall light advantages To address these concerns, Gregory & Adams was joined by representatives of Musco Lighting. The lighting company rep claimed a change in town regulations allowing for higher light poles would actually reduce light spilling into neighbor\u2019s backyards. Using a four-point plan, Andrew Dyjack, of Musco Lighting, explained this point. \u201cOur goal is to reduce spill and glare onto adjoining property, and ensure safe play on the field. To do this, we take into account a visor, optometric design, mounting height, and an appropriate fixture count. \u201cThe only way to ensure the visor and optometric design work properly,\u201d he continued \u201cis a proper mounting height. Increased mounting height actually decreases the spill and glare.\u201d With the proper height, he claimed, his company could easily make light spill as low as 0.5 foot-candles at the property line. \u201cAt 0.5 foot-candles you can barely tie your shoes,\u201d he said. Mr. LoFrisco said \u201ccute\u201d regulations like the one proposed by Gregory & Adams are \u201cseldom successful\u201d because they are written to afford a solution to a single construction plan. \u201cIt\u2019s too cute because they\u2019re trying to ride this regulation towards getting the Middlebrook field through planning and zoning. We shouldn\u2019t destroy the lighting and zoning requirements to accommodate these sorts of things.\u201d John McDermott, of 11 Hunting Ridge Lane, is a Wilton Youth Football coach who lives \u201cfive houses away\u201d from the Middlebrook field. He said those people like Mr. LoFrisco who were opposed to changing the zoning regulations were \u201cdisingenuous\u201d in claiming they were trying to \u201cmaintain the integrity of planning and zoning laws.\u201d \u201cWe need to be more upfront with what we are actually talking about,\u201d he said. \u201cThe quality of the fields and the support from their community is important for the kids and helps the whole town.\u201d Liberalization of regulations While Mr. Paddy and Mr. LoFrisco live near the school, and disagree with the proposed regulations on a site-specific level, another contingent of the opposition was simply opposed to any liberalization of regulations, regardless of location. Arthur Lederman, of Ambler Lane, told the commission he worried there was an agenda behind the scenes seeking to exploit the zoning regulations. \u201cWho has made any case that this town needs any additional lighting? Where do we have a need? Someone has, in the back of his mind, a use for this regulation change. Who wants this? Where are all of these little groups coming to say \u2018Oh, we need this\u2019? I would like to know what the agenda is,\u201d he said. Dean Price, of DeForest Road, has lived in Wilton since 1959. He said that over the years, he had seen many changes in town, \u201csome for the better, some for the worse.\u201d Mr. Price\u2019s concerns about the new regulations, he said, had little to do with the Middlebrook field. \u201cI used to coach Little League and Pop Warner football in Wilton. If it\u2019s a place like Middlebrook, I won\u2019t argue with the fact that the kids need to be safe. I\u2019m concerned with what was brought up before. What\u2019s to stop my neighbor who likes to throw late parties from putting up stadium lights?\u201d Many members of the audience who opposed liberalized lighting regulations asked that, if this regulation change is to be considered, two things be done. They asked the commission to write the regulations themselves, rather than deciding on an interested party\u2019s regulations, and that they be made significantly \u201ctighter\u201d than the regulations proposed by Gregory & Adams.