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.