The Planning and Zoning Commission approved Wilton Youth Football‘s application for an artificial turf field at Middlebrook School during Monday night’s commission meeting. They did so, however, after removing any lighting option from the plan, and included a clause in their resolution specifying that any and all future lighting plans must come before P&Z for approval.
Following debate amongst the commissioners, and conferral with Wilton’s town counsel, the resolution was approved with two lines added: “Approval of this application does not include nor extend to the relocation, placement nor replacement of new or existing, permanent and/or temporary lighting on site. The applicant’s site plan shall be revised to indicate removal of all existing and proposed field lighting, including temporary lighting unless otherwise approved by the commission.”
Of the nine commissioners, six⎯Lori Bufano, Peter Shiue, Sally Poundstone, Chris Hulse, Joe Fiteni and Bas Nabulsi⎯voted to approve the artificial turf proposal; the three who voted to oppose the turf proposal were Frank Wong, John Comiskey and Doris Knapp.
The commission heard from Wilton’s associate town counsel Pat Sullivan, who clarified some outstanding questions left over from prior meetings. She confirmed that the P&Z commissioners could approve the application for the field and eliminate the option for lights even though the applicant had proposed the elements together in their application.
The approval didn’t seem to dissuade Anthony LoFrisco, the most outspoken opponent to the proposal. Following the vote, he gave GOOD Morning Wilton, two thumbs up when asked for his reaction to the commission’s approval of the artificial turf plan.
“They don’t know it yet, but it’s ‘thumbs up,’” LoFrisco said. “You’ll see. It’s not over, of course it’s not over.”
LoFrisco referred to what he said is “an insurmountable obstacle” and hinted that he was confident that the approval wouldn’t hold up. What’s more, he seemed to threaten that more legal action would be coming the town’s way.
“We told them about it and they didn’t respond, and it’s going to happen and it’s going to be reversed.” He refused to elaborate beyond that and give specifics on what the “insurmountable obstacle” is.
“I don’t want to go into too much detail, I don’t want to give away our secrets. During the course of argument, we raised the issue and they just sort of ignored it. They have to pay the consequences now. And it’s going to be a lot of wasted legal fees. We’re going to go up to court, they’re going to lose, they’re going to come back and they’re going to be out of luck. It’s crazy,” he said.
GMW pressed LoFrisco as to what his motivation was to continue fighting the proposed turf field. He said it has to do with the kind of development that he sees happening in town and lack of respect for zoning regulations.
“It has nothing to do with sports. It has to do with the deterioration of what’s happening in town, including the signage, the sandwich boards all over town, School Road is deteriorating because the town itself is not putting in the required buffers. They’re violating their own lighting regulations and School Rd. is the first place where people come to look at when they’re thinking of moving in town. My view is it has nothing to do with sports, or whether kids can play or anything like that. But we can’t start tearing apart the regulations bit by bit. In fact the court that threw out the ZBA variance pointed that out, saying you can’t tear apart, bit by bit, the zoning regulations. Otherwise you’ll be left with nothing. That’s what my motivation is.”
LoFrisco also said he sees no option for the field to progress given the current lighting regulations. What’s more, he said that the he believes the town is in violation on all current field lighting.
“I’m telling you now, they can’t do it. They can’t do it. They tried to change the regulations and they failed. What are you supposed to do, have an illegal set of lights? That’s what happens with towns that deteriorate–the zoning regulations are ignored or they’re violated and people get discouraged after a while. They don’t feel like spending so much money in fighting them all the time. All of the lights are illegal in town–football lights, all of them. Not one of them comply with the regulation but people decided not to spend the tens of thousands of dollars necessary, because it wasn’t bothering anybody. But these do.”
Curiously, LoFrisco said it’s not something that he personally is affected by, but he’s offended by that larger, overall issue of “deterioration.”
“They don’t bother me. I don’t see the lights by my house and I won’t see any lights from my house.” He later emailed GMW to add, “Neighboring towns like Ridgefield, New Canaan, Darien, Westport, and Greenwich do not suffer from the kind of illegal signage blight infecting Wilton. Take look as you drive through those towns. What prevents our Zoning Enforcement Officer from doing the same job that other ZEOs do in those towns?”
Wilton Youth Football representatives declined any comment following the meeting.