P&Z Watch: Large Outdoor Ice Rink at Round Hill Rd Residence Gets Green Light

On Tuesday night the Planning & Zoning commission reviewed a proposed final site plan and special permit from Adam and Sarah Dolder to construct a 100 ft long lighted open air ice rink with an adjacent 256 sq. ft. building for lockers and Zamboni storage, plus a 821 sq ft pool house, drainage systems and associated utilities at 407 Round Hill Rd.

The applicants’ proposal would further exceed 150,000 cubic feet in building volume.

The property is 7.32-acres in the RA-4 Zone. Impervious coverage on the property would only increase by 8,867square feet (0.20± acres).

Unlike a recent application for an athletic facility on private property, a baseball field that was built without permits on Clapboard Ridge Rd, this time no neighbors testified with objections.

That might be because the applicants weren’t asking for permission after the fact.

Last spring, the owner of an illegal baseball field at 56 Clapboard Ridge Road went before the commission seeking to bring his field into compliance after receiving zoning violations.

A number of neighbors testified against the field, which included a backstop, bleachers, moveable 4 ft high mesh fence and gravel parking area for parents which had been constructed without permission from the town.

Neighbors cited loud pings of aluminum bats, unsafe parking and streams of cars of parents dropping off and picking up children. They requested players switch from aluminum bats to wood ones, add screening around a lake, and impose strict time limits for practices.

After multiple hearings, the commission permitted the field, but with multiple conditions.

This week P&Z chair Margarita Alban noted,”We’re always very careful when we get a big sports facility that you respect the neighborhood.”

Most of the discussion focused on the lighting for the ice rink and saving a mature 28″ Oak tree, which is proposed to be preserved by creating a well and a stone wall around it, while four other mature trees would be cut down.

Bret Holzwarth civil engineer with Redness & Mead noted that in 2015 the dwelling received a special permit for excess volume. The house was constructed in 2018.

He said they applicants had already received a wetlands permit, and that the pool house would be connected to the main septic system, but they would relocate the septic tank and tie it into the existing system.

Holzwarth said the Zoning Enforcement Officer’s one comment was on the kitchenette in the pool house, noting that the sink would need to be reduced in size to meet the “wet bar”definition.

An item discussed at length was the rink lighting. The owner proposed incorporating lights with a more “residential feel.”

“Kind of a new England style pond/rink,” Holzwarth said, adding that the rink would be a considerable distance from any neighbors, and have no intrusion on the neighbors nor the Round Hill Community Church that abuts the property. “This is a very large, oversized lot, it’s over 7 acres and the nearest house is over 300 ft away from the ice rink. The lights are over 50 ft from the side yard setback. With these smaller residential kind of ‘globe lights,’ it’s much more in character to our typical back yard residential lighting.”

“That doesn’t comply with our regulations,” Alban said of the globe lights. “The light sources need to be shielded.”

“You’re going to see the carnival lights as proposed through the trees, which don’t have leaves on them during the winter months,” commissioner Macri said. “I think that to me is more intrusive than the commercial type lighting where the lamps are actually shielded.”

Mr. Holzwarth said if the industrial ones were more compliant with lighting regulations, his client would look at that as the primary lighting.

“The lighting should not make shadows on the ice and not get into the skaters’ eyes,” Alban said. “I’d go with something that will be functional in the long run. It’s your call because you’re going to use it for roller skating as well, according to the narrative.”

The commission said the lighting issue could be finalized with the Architectural Review Committee.

Ms Alban said the next issue was that of hosting public events.

“No public events – that’s what you have in your letter. No leagues, no professional sports, family and friends only,” she said. “I realize it’s far from other properties, but from a precedent point of view, it makes sense for us to restrict the time that the lights are on so, something acceptable to you all, weekdays 10:00pm.”

Mr. Holzwarth said that was acceptable.

“We would also say, just to be safe, no amplified sound. Sound does carry in the winter. We want people to enjoy their property. I know it’s far from everything, and I know it’s a really large piece of property, but the conditions we make here should be the same conditions we make anywhere where someone has this kind of facility. And you know there’s quite a few of them in town.”

As for protecting the 28″ Oak tree, Katie Haas from William Kenny Associates said the stone wall around the Oak tree was to protect it, but some of the roots would be cut.

Mr. Holzwarth said, “With these tree wells and disturbance, there’s no guarantee a tree will survive. An alternate is to remove the tree and smooth out the grade, and in exchange we’d plant 5 oak trees.”

“It’s probably better not to disturb the tree at all,” said commissioner Peter Levy. “I don’t know why you’d go to so much trouble to save the tree but nonetheless you are cutting the roots and creating a situation where you’re endangering it by touching it. It seems to me there are other options.”

“It looks like you are caging it,” he said.

“The calisthenics of trying to save it may not work to the best advantage here,” Macri said.

“If the answer wasn’t totally clear, we would want you to knock yourself out saving the one nice tree,” Alban said. “The benefit it has today would take a long time to compensated for the loss of it. And we do fight for every big tree here in town. I think you know that. Every big tree that you can keep — because of the environmental benefits, we try very hard. We’d rather you give Ms Haas free hand to save that tree in what she thinks is the best way possible and not “cage” it at Mr Levy is saying.”

After conversation about a rain garden, meadow buffer, and use of fill, the commission closed the item open and the applicant agreed to work with ARC on the issue of lighting.

Conditions include using timers on the rink lighting to go off at 10:00pm no amplified sound, no league events, no professional use – only family and friends.