Wetlands board approves Winter Club, denies intervention by neighbors

Published on January 15, 2019 

The Ridgefield Press, BY PETER YANKOWSKI

The Inland Wetlands Board voted 4-3 to approve a new drainage system, as well as related grading and paving work in the upland review area near 340 Peaceable Street, for the Ridgefield Winter Club Tuesday, Jan. 8.

The approved wetlands application does not allow developer Bud Brown to begin building his private skating club.

The outdoor skating rink, clubhouse, and parking lot that Brown envisioned on roughly six acres of former nursery land on Peaceable Street will require a special permit from the Planning and Zoning Commission — made up of the same nine members as the wetlands board.

Cathy Savoca, who joined the board in December, abstained from voting Tuesday night. Fellow commissioner Bob Cascella has been recused from voting on the Ridgefield Winter Club (RWC) application since its first public hearing in September.

Brown withdrew two special permit applications to run the private club in a residential zone on Dec. 12. He also withdrew an application for 40-foot lights that would have illuminated the skating rink. The withdrawn applications came after the Planning and Zoning Commission grilled the club’s acoustic expert in late November for suggesting the RWC would need to be built before noise from the club could be calculated.

Attorney Bob Jewell, who has represented Brown through eight public hearings last year, was seen congratulating his client as the decision was announced Jan. 8.

“We’re pleased with the outcome,” Jewell told The Press shortly after the wetlands board meeting, which drew around 60 residents to the Board of Education conference room in the town hall annex.

Board members Joe Dowdell, Mark Zeck, and Charles Robbins voted against the RWC’s wetlands application.

“In my 13 years on the commission, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of property that has ever been scrutinized like this one,” said Vice Chairman Joe Fossi.

Out of five environmental experts, “there was only one who found that the conduct would have an unreasonable polluting effect there,” he added.

Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti said she thought the revised wetlands application responded to concerns raised by the town Conservation Commission, and from peer review for the town.

Intervention

The decision also denied a legal intervention filed by Jennifer and Jeff Hansen, neighbors of the proposed club who live on Old South Salem Road. The Hansens’ intervention alleged that the proposed club would threaten vernal pools and a habitat for wood frogs. 

Dr. Michael Klemens, an expert hired by the Hansens, claimed an environmental study by the club was insufficient, because the study had not been conducted in the spring when the frog populations breed.

“I’m just disappointed in the four members of the board who didn’t seem to understand our argument that the vernal pools within 750 feet of the property need to be studied in the springtime,” Jeff Hansen said after the Jan. 8 meeting.

Zeck, who voted against the application, said he agreed with Dr. Klemen’s assessment that the study had been done at the wrong time of year.

“I believe that his testimony is reliable,” Zeck said.

Robbins, who also voted against the application, said he was “yet to be convinced” the project would not result in pollution.

“Doing nothing is a reasonable and prudent alternative,” he said.

Jewell has said the club plans to submit a new special permit application to build the winter club.

Board member John Katz, who voted in favor of the wetlands application, seemed to allude to that possibility.

“The conclusion I arrived at has nothing to do with any application that may come before us for use of the property in the future. It is a divorced situation, and I’m looking at this clearly through the lens of the standards we must meet both for the intervention, and as the Inland Wetlands Board,” he said.

 

Originally appeared in:

https://www.theridgefieldpress.com/127890-wetlands-board-approves-winter-club-denies-intervention-by-neighbors/?fbclid=IwAR2ahj7fZSPua1LfRF-TnCoGk_AbDqY35eK8tO4HRlvx3wtpmsjbAB9GdAg

RWC Presents Vision to P&Z Commission

September 5, 2018, Ridgefield, CT — The Ridgefield Winter Club (RWC) yesterday presented its plans to transform the old, deteriorating Pinchbeck Nursery into a premier winter destination for Ridgefield to the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

“We appreciate the Commission’s initial feedback and thoughtful review of our plans and are grateful for all the members of the Ridgefield community who have expressed their support,” Bud Brown, RWC Founder, said. “Because we fully embrace our commitment to be a good neighbor, the RWC will replicate the residential look and feel of our town, operate with modest hours and months of usage, and bring significant economic benefits, including additional tax revenue, to Ridgefield.”

Brown said that, as of yesterday, 180 letters from Ridgefield families who support the RWC have been submitted to the Commission.

“For decades, the Town of Ridgefield has had the flexibility it needs to manage the right level of development for our town,” Brown said, “and we look forward to the continuation of that vision. The RWC’s zoning application seeks to replace the commercial nursery’s current legal nonconforming land use with a conforming use allowed by special permit, thereby aligning with current town zoning priorities.”

In terms of the environment, the RWC also noted that new planting on the site will be accompanied by fresh landscaping -- including an apple orchard at the front – and the area closest to the Peaceable Refuge will be used sparingly. This will have a net positive impact on wildlife since animals currently cannot safely access the site given its active use by a landscaping operation. Additionally, operating on a daily basis, for just five months a year as it plans to do, it is anticipated that the peak daily water usage will be approximately 3,500 gallons. By way of comparison, the daily usage for a nursery, with just one acre of planting, is 11,000 to 22,000 gallons per day for a full 12 months per year, and in years past multiple acres have been planted on this property.

The RWC’s indoor entertainment offerings will include a golf simulation room, four bowling lanes, a tabletop game room, homework rooms, casual dining with a bar, locker rooms, along with other amenities. Outdoor activity will focus on providing skating lessons; social family skates; and intra-RWC events, including hockey, figure skating, broomball, and curling to its members.

The RWC’s ice rink and Clubhouse will operate seasonally from November through March, and the entire RWC will be closed during summer months. From April-May and September-October, the ice rink will be closed, and the Clubhouse will operate on a reduced schedule. On weekdays, from November through March, the ice rink will open for skating at 7 a.m., and hockey at 8 a.m., and all recreational activities on the ice will end by 9:45 p.m., or earlier. The ice rink will open at 8 a.m. on weekends and all recreational activities on the ice will end by 9:45 p.m., or earlier. The Clubhouse will close by 11 p.m., or earlier.

For more information, please visit www.ridgefieldwinterclub.com or www.facebook.com/SupportRWC

 

Ridgefield Winter Club Files Zoning Application

Published on Friday, 20 July 2018

The Ridgefield Winter Club (RWC) today announced it has filed its formal application with the town’s Planning and Zoning Department to transform the old, deteriorating Pinchbeck Nursery into a strong family-focused winter destination that will bring community-wide benefits to Ridgefield. The RWC’s website  and Facebook page host up-to-date plans and information that outline the vision for the Club and the benefits this project will bring to Ridgefield.

“The Ridgefield Winter Club will add a unique new asset to all that our town has to offer,” RWC Founder Bud Brown said, “and we are thrilled to be moving forward. We truly embrace the importance of being a good steward of the community, and we’re proud to present an application that incorporates Ridgefield’s local standards and fulfills the promise to support the community as an attractive place in which to live and raise a family.”

The RWC will create a premier facility with an outdoor ice rink for families to gather socially and build community and camaraderie through a range of interactive indoor and outdoor activities. Indoor entertainment offerings will include four bowling lanes, a golf simulation room, a tabletop game room, homework rooms, casual dining with a bar, locker rooms, along with other amenities. Outdoor activity will focus on providing skating lessons, social family skates, and intra-RWC events, including hockey, figure skating, broomball, and curling to its members.

The RWC’s ice rink and Clubhouse will operate seasonally from November through March, and the entire RWC will be closed during summer months. From April-May and September-October, the ice rink will be closed, and the Clubhouse will operate on a reduced schedule. On weekdays, from November through March, the ice rink will open for skating at 7 a.m., and hockey at 8 a.m., and all recreational activities on the ice will end by 9:45 p.m., or earlier. The ice rink will open at 8 a.m. on weekends and all recreational activities on the ice will end by 9:45 p.m., or earlier. The Clubhouse will close by 11 p.m., or earlier.

“We’ve taken great care to replicate the residential look and feel of our town, operate with modest hours and months of usage, and use proven lighting technology as well as measures intended to eliminate any potential noise effects outside the property lines,” Brown said. “Transforming this old, deteriorating nursery into an attractive, freshly landscaped facility will replace the existing nonconforming land use with a conforming use allowed by special permit, thereby aligning with current town zoning priorities. And through this transformation, we will bring a full range of positive economic benefits to Ridgefield by creating jobs and generating an estimated five times the amount of tax revenue currently paid by the site to help fund vital town services.”

Brown added: “We are so appreciative of the positive response and excitement from community members who share our belief that the RWC will strengthen the community for years to come. To date, we

have received more than 115 letters from supporters and nearly 600 people have liked the Facebook page in support of the Club. We encourage residents to check out these resources for updates and more information as we continue our ongoing outreach.”

For more information, please visit www.ridgefieldwinterclub.coor facebook.com/supportRWC/.

https://news.hamlethub.com/ridgefield/places/60561-ridgefield-winter-club-files-zoning-application

Ridgefield Winter Club Outlines Plans To Turn Nursery Into ‘Destination’

Stay up to date on the latest Ridgefield Winter Club news and updates through our website and Facebook page (@SupportRWC). Please share these resources with friends!

Ridgefield Winter Club Outlines Plans To Turn Nursery Into 'Destination'

By: Ridgefield Daily Voice     August 2, 2017

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — The Ridgefield Winter Club is promoting its plan to transforms the Pinchbeck Nursery into a premier, family-oriented winter recreation destination.

The plan, which has drawn fire from many neighbors, is outlined on a new website and Facebook page for the Ridgefield Winter Club. The founder is detailing the "community-wide benefits this project will bring to town."

“The Ridgefield Winter Club will fill the seasonal void that currently exists in our town,” RWC founder Bud Brown said. “We’re proud to help create a premier facility that offers a safe, interactive, social environment for children and families to connect with one another through a range of indoor and outdoor activities.”

The website provides an information about Brown's vision to transform the deteriorating Pinchbeck Nursery into a family-focused facility that will include an outdoor ice rink, as well as indoor recreational activities.

The Facebook page provides additional information about the project, answers questions about the project and outlines ways to support the plan, he said.

There are also visual and architectural renderings of the Ridgefield Winter Club on the website. The club will keep all of the light on the property; eliminate noise effects outside of the property lines; keep all parking on-property; and care for the local environment, Brown said.

Under the plan, the Ridgefield Winter Club’s ice rink and clubhouse will be open seven days a week from November through March.

In April and May and September and October, the ice rink will be closed and the Clubhouse will operate on a reduced three- to four-day a week schedule.

The entire club will be closed June, July, and August.

On weekdays from November through March, the ice rink will open for skating at 7 a.m., and hockey at 8 a.m., and all recreational activities on the ice will end by 9:45 p.m., or earlier.

The ice rink will open at 8 a.m. on weekends and all recreational activities on the ice will end by 9:45 p.m., or earlier. The Clubhouse will close by 11 p.m., or earlier.

The club's indoor entertainment offerings will include a golf simulation room, four lanes of bowling, a tabletop game room, homework rooms, casual dining with a small bar, locker rooms, along with other amenities.

Outdoor activity will focus on providing skating lessons, social family skates, and ice events, including hockey, figure skating, broomball, and curling, to its members.

“The current legal nonconforming use of the site is for a commercial retail nursery in a residential area,” Brown said. “Transforming this old, deteriorating nursery into an attractive, freshly landscaped facility will replace the existing nonconforming land use with a conforming use allowed by special permit, thereby aligning with current town zoning priorities."

He said the club would bring economic benefits to Ridgefield, by creating jobs and generating tax revenue five times the amount currently paid by the site.

Originally appeared in: http://ridgefield.dailyvoice.com/neighbors/ridgefield-winter-club-outlines-plans-to-turn-nursery-into-destination/717718/