The Birchwood Country Club is looking to build four courts to meet the growing interest in the sport, but neighbors attending a planning and zoning meeting said they are concerned about the noise that the site will generate. The club is planning to install a 10-foot high acoustic fence to buffer the noise, but residents questioned if the fencing would actually shield the noise. Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission said they’re torn on the issue, understanding the club’s desire to meet a growing need, as well as the neighbors’ noise concerns. Another discussion is planned for July 25.
A country club and its neighbors in Westport, Conn. are at odds over adding pickleball courts that residents worry will be too loud so close to their homes, The News-Times reported.
The Birchwood Country Club is looking to build four courts to meet the growing interest in the sport, a scaled down proposal that removed one of the courts and now includes 10-foot high acoustic fencing to help buffer the noise.
“We went above and beyond,” said Andy Soumelidis, with LANDTECH, who filed the application on behalf of the club. He said they’ve taken the neighbors’ feedback into consideration with the modifications.
But neighbors at this week’s planning and zoning meeting still said the proposed courts are too close to their homes about 50 yards away and questioned if the fencing would actually shield the noise, The News-Times reported.Pickleball is currently being played on one of the paddle ball courts at the club, but neighbors said one court is less of a noise issue than four.
They said courts at the club would be used constantly and there is the possibility of events, The News-Times reported.
Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission said they’re torn on the issue, understanding the club’s desire to meet a growing need, as well as the neighbors’ noise concerns, agreeing that pickleball is louder and a higher pitch than that of tennis, which is already played at the club, The News-Times reported.
“This is a dilly of a pickle, no question,” said Paul Lebowitz, adding the noise is definitely prevalent when he’s been to other pickleball courts in town.
Danielle Dobin, the commission’s chairwoman, said the panel often has to remind residents of uses at sites that were there before the people moved to the area, The News-Times reported. She and other members used the example of moving next to an airport and hearing planes land. But, she said, this is more like buying a house next to an airport and Space X moves in.
Officials and residents questioned why the club couldn’t find another suitable site on its 80 acres, urging the applicant to reconsider the current one that was so close to homes, The News-Times reported. The club also has a golf course, pools, as well as dining and event space.
Some residents suggested putting it where the current tennis courts are or having it go on the side of the club that abuts commercial properties and Post Road, The News-Times reported.
“It would be very loud in this location,” said Jason Stiber, one of the 10 neighbors who spoke out against the project. He added it would be the highest concentration of pickleball courts in town.
He said the town has tried to create a leafblower ordinance due to the noise, but this was more of an issue.
The issue is further complicated because Westport doesn’t have a noise ordinance stating what are acceptable decibel levels, The News-Times reported. However, representatives for the applicant said the pickleball noise would be below the state level.
John Fallon, the attorney representing the club, said they’re sensitive to the neighbors’ concerns and can look at other locations.
Pickleball is considered one of the fastest growing sports in the country, according to the town’s website.
But communities are also now grappling with noise issues due to the type of ball and paddle used, The News-Times reported. Several of the speakers at this week’s meeting pointed to cases throughout the country where localities are trying to mitigate the noise, such as Ridgewood, N.J., where officials restricted hours and added multiple layers of sound proofing.
The commission will revisit the court proposal July 25 when acoustic reports from both the neighbors and club will be presented.