P&Z approves temp lighting for Westport PAL football
Published 6:40 am, Friday, October 7, 2011
Westport's youth football players are to set to see more action on the gridiron this season, after the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved Thursday a site plan for temporary lighting for team practices at the Doubleday Field complex.
Proposed by the town Parks and Recreation Department, the plan will increase available playing time for Westport Police Athletic League football teams after sunset by using temporary lighting for practices Monday through Friday until 8 p.m., from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. The lights will be used at the Peter "PJ" Romano Field and an adjacent field at the Doubleday facility on Riverside Avenue. Light poles at the site will be 30 feet high when fully extended and powered by generators.
The P&Z recently established the zoning framework for the Doubleday site plan when it unanimously approved a text amendment proposed by Parks and Rec that allows field lighting at no more than two town properties, with each site limited to one permanent or two temporarily illuminated fields.
To monitor the temporary lighting fixtures' compliance with zoning regulations, Parks and Recreation Chairwoman Janis Collins said previously that First Selectman Gordon Joseloff would appoint a four-member "field lighting review committee" that would include two members whose homes are near the Doubleday complex. That panel would also report any zoning violations caused by the lights to the town's zoning enforcement officer, Collins said.
Lighting for youth athletic programs in recent years has been a debated land-use issue.
In 2009, Parks and Rec sought a package of zoning changes that would have allowed both permanent and temporary lighting at town-owned athletic fields. The P&Z ultimately approved an amendment that permitted only permanent lighting. Several neighbors of the Staples High School athletic complex and the Doubleday facility subsequently contested that decision in state Superior Court. That appeal is pending.