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Hoyden's Hill Neighbors Sue Over Girls' Little League Field

Impact of Lawsuit on Timing of Construction of Field, Infrastructure for Park Undetermined

Residents in the town's Hoyden's Hill neighborhood are suing the Town Plan and Zoning Commission over its approval of a girls' Little League field and infrastructure for a park on Hoyden's Lane.

The lawsuit from the Hoyden's Hill Environmental Trust was filed Wednesday in the Town Clerk's Office.

First Selectman Ken Flatto said he hadn't seen the lawsuit yet, and the impact of the suit on the town's plan to build the field and infrastructure for a park wasn't immediately known.

"My guess is it's a pretty unlikely lawsuit to be successful," Flatto said.

Flatto said Town Attorney Richard Saxl would meet with members of the Town Plan and Zoning Commission and town recreation officials to decide whether construction of the field, which was slated to start this summer, should be delayed until the lawsuit is resolved.

Keith R. Ainsworth, the attorney for the Hoyden's Hill Environmental Trust, says in the suit that the commission didn't consider as an alternative building the girls' Little League field on the front third of the 9.42-acre, town-owned property at 520 Hoyden's Lane, which would have eliminated the need for "severe cutting and filling disruption of the natural resources at the rear third of the parcel and the vegetated middle third of the parcel..."

Several Hoyden's Hill residents said at public hearings they believe the field is sited in the center of the property because town officials plan to have additional fields at the front and back of the property, which Ainsworth alludes to in the lawsuit. He says in the suit that the commission ignored "unopposed evidence that the Town intends to utilize the upper and lower third of the site for practice fields" and failed to consider "the impacts to natural resources from that express intended usage." Ainsworth also says in the suit that the commission didn't attach "reasonable" and "easily-applied" conditions to its approval that would prevent the town from using the rest of the property for practice fields.

Ainsworth contends in the suit that the commission also ignored "expert testimony and evidence"  that indicated a bird survey should be done on the property due to sightings of rare bird species.

After the commissioned approved the field on April 12, Kathryn Braun, a Representative Town Meeting member from District 8, said the town required leaders of the Fairfield Organic Teaching Farm to conduct a bird survey on the adjacent Hoyden's Hill Open Space Area before they used it for farming. That decision by the town's Conservation Commission led the FOTF to return to the 520 Hoyden's Lane property, where town recreation officials already approved their use of 1 acre for a farm. The farm would be on the front third of the property, but FOTF's lease for that acre would expire at the end of 2012.

Ainsworth also objects in the suit to commission members comparing the girls' Little League field to a residential development of four houses, which hadn't been presented to the commission.

Ainsworth wants a Bridgeport Superior Court judge to overturn the Town Plan and Zoning Commission's approval of the field and park infrastructure and pay the Trust's attorneys' fees.

Members of the Hoyden's Hill Environmental Trust are identified in the lawsuit only as "citizens of Fairfield adjacent and proximate to the site that is the subject of this appeal, 510 and 520 Hoyden's Lane, Fairfield, Connecticut ("the Site") who enjoy the natural resources likely to be impacted by the activities permitted by the Defendant." The town plans to put 25 parking spaces on 510 Hoyden's Lane.

Ainsworth says in the suit that the Trust is "dedicated to the protection and preservation of natural resources in the Town of Fairfield and proximate to the Hoyden's Hill Open Space."

The girls' Little League field would include bleachers, benches, fencing, a backstop, auxiliary building, restroom facility and 44 parking spaces, according to the suit.

NIMBY Lover April 27, 2011 at 09:35 PM
These jackasses won't give up. Good grief.
Concerned Fairfielder April 27, 2011 at 09:41 PM
We are in a fiscal state of emergency according to Republicans! We are about to implode? How did this $ get approved? No money for education, but we have money for softball fields, beach pavilions and auditoriums for middle schools? Am I the only one that believes that this is twisted?
fairfield newcomer April 28, 2011 at 12:53 AM
Priorities sir, priorities.
steve sheppard April 28, 2011 at 11:42 AM
Just have a deed restriction on the property. That way can limiit its use. Here we are bonding a girls 14 and under ball park when we have so many pressing needs.
Randatola April 28, 2011 at 12:49 PM
We must have these fields. It's not fair that my Princess doesn't have a place to hang her softball pennant. The cost is not important. We can always cut more teachers and police officers to pay for these softball fields.
Wally April 28, 2011 at 04:57 PM
You people are a bunch of dolts, all of you. A group so concerned over the fiscal state of the town that they won't let a mere 400k bonding expenditure get paid are going to cost the town thrice that in attouney fees. Hypocrites.
David Adams April 28, 2011 at 06:04 PM
NIMBY!!
Jerry McTigue April 28, 2011 at 06:50 PM
"Here we are bonding a girls 14 and under ball park when we have so many pressing needs." "It's not fair that my Princess doesn't have a place to hang her softball pennant." Both these comments are blatently sexist. They're also derogatory to children and the parents of these extraordinary athletes who have achieved remarkable state and regional succes. Come on, guys. Lose your snide cynicism and join the 21st century.
Amused Fairfielder April 30, 2011 at 04:47 AM
These comments amuse me. They are not sexist so much that they are "NIMBY" in nature. No one is getting their jobs cut for this. Fairfield was paying for this ugly, unused property for some time now building a softball field will actually alleviate those costs. Now that the Town of Fairfield is finally planning to utilize this property (and thereby probably drive down the value the houses on Hoyden's Lane, due to the decreased wildlife and increased traffic), they are reacting over this decision which inconveniences them so. Understandable...and also futile. This lawsuit has about as much chance of success as I would with Halle Berry. I like wildlife and sincerely wish that the town had spent some money renovating the softball fields it already has instead of building a new one. The demand of little league softball in this town, while commendable and legitimately impressive, can't be so crucial as to use this property for a softball field here. With that said, this property has to be used forsomething since the town is paying for it already, and the town's girls are more important than a bird, however rare it may be (this is coming from a skilled birdwatcher). Good luck to the girls that will be playing on this beautiful new field. Perhaps the residents of Hoyden's Lane can go watch some games every now and then for amusement? LOL
CAB May 01, 2011 at 11:43 AM
I am amused by all the NIMBY comments. Would you feel differently if the field were next door to your house?
Jimmy Dugan May 01, 2011 at 11:54 AM
In a word, no. For five months a year, kids are going to be playing ball on weekday afternoons and weekend days. There'll be adequate parking (unlike many of the fields in town) and the field will be maintained following environmentally friendly principles (no herbicides or pesticides). And there are residents on Hoydens Hill who support this field, one of whom testified at a TPZ. This about a handful of selfish, isolated people, who refer to neighborhood as "our hill" and those who come to the golf course or driving range as "strangers." NIMBY is too nice a term for them.
CAB May 01, 2011 at 12:00 PM
Really you need to calm down -- it was just a question. No need to personally insult the people who live in that neighborhood.
Jimmy Dugan May 01, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Really. The insult here is what they are doing, what they have said, and what they have done over the last few years.
CAB May 01, 2011 at 09:27 PM
From what I've read both sides did their share of insulting -- still no need to be rude.
James P May 01, 2011 at 10:53 PM
What is sexist is sending girls up out-of-the way to play and bonding money for recreation when we are in a recession with inflation. The girls should be downtown playing so other girls can see them and not sent to the back of the bus. Hoydens Hill is a treasure of wildlife and open space which is why people in Southport voted 3 to 1 not to build the field. It is the last thing we should be spending money on. Plan better, schedule better and use the more than adequate field we have rather than socking taxpayers with another bill for a private organization!!!
Kathryn B May 02, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Right, and Obama wasn't born in the United States, Donald Trump still has his real hair, and Fox News is fair and balanced.
Amused Fairfielder May 05, 2011 at 06:37 AM
We are already paying for that property, so money is flowing whether a field is built there or not. Fairfield Park & Rec did not purchase unused property just so it can sit there and fester. The issue here is that the property values of the people at Hoyden's Lane will decrease if a softball field is built in the vicinity. In this regard, I agree with CAB. They have a right to express remorse, especially when that remorse will lead them nowhere. But still, the land needs to be used and it is being used for a good cause. It's nice that the girls are going to get a new field all to themselves... The lawsuit is frivolous and will cost the town plenty of money in it's own right. P.S. -- That horrendous house with the trees growing out of it needs to come down. Even Hoyden's Hill folk will agree with me there.
Sydney May 05, 2011 at 09:22 AM
So you are finally admitting you are a NIMBY??? Everyone in this town has facilities near them. Live with it. You lost fair and square.
Sydney May 05, 2011 at 09:29 AM
These neighbors fighting this in Hoydens Hill are crazy. They love trying to protect a few birds if they believe that they can sell that to a Court. The only birds they are trying to protect are themeselves - the Coo-Coo birds. Good luck - wish you waste alot of your money.
Amused Fairfielder May 06, 2011 at 05:24 AM
I don't agree that 100% of the Hoyden's residents care less about their backyard's natural habitat. That isn't really a fair generalization.

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