Neither side happy with JCC pool vote
New Haven Register
WOODBRIDGE >> It was the aim of Town Plan and Zoning Commission Chairman Jeffrey Kaufman for both the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven and neighbors to walk away happy after heated hearings regarding the JCC’s application to extend outdoor pool hours to evenings and weekends in order to open a pool club.
But in the end, after a final vote Monday night, neither side was happy.
The JCC was seeking to amend a special permit to keep the camp pool open until 7 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends from June 28 to Labor Day so it could open an affordable club for families that would bring in revenue. The JCC’s permit only allows the camp pool to be open until 4:30 p.m. weekdays. About a dozen neighbors came out to object at a public hearing that lasted months and even hired a lawyer.
After tying 3-3 on a vote Monday to approve all the extended hours with conditions — including construction of a 10-foot wall around the pool area and planting trees to mitigate noise, along with turning a loudspeaker toward the pool, rather than neighbors, the TPZC took a second vote of 5-1 to approve the extended hours during the week with all the same noise mitigation conditions.
JCC attorney Tom Lynch said after the hearing the expense of building the wall just to offer weekday hours of pool club time may not be feasible.
Attorney Timothy Lee, who represents residents, said he had “mixed feelings.” While not happy with the approval, he said residents were glad the TPZC considered many of the issues they raised.
‘LIVE WITH IT’
The commission members, who have taken hours of testimony from both sides in a public hearing that began in April and ended last month, had a detailed public discussion before the vote.
TPZC member Allen Lipson was the only one to vote “no” on both motions. Lipson said when original approvals were gven for the camp pool, neighbors agreed to it under the terms of the hours of operation and it wasn’t fair to now change that, even though the JCC had a right to come back for more hours.
“The problem I have is at the end of the day there was an agreement (regarding hours),” Lipson said. “You made an agreement, live with it.”
Commissioner Kathleen Wallace said her main hurdle was in approving a plan that allowed weekend hours because then the neighbors would have noise during a time there had been absolutely no noise.
“That is huge,” Wallace said.
Wallace noted neighbors had already testified that during camp hours the noise is sometimes so loud they cannot rest or read in their backyards.
Kaufman wanted to approve the plan in the first motion, saying that if the JCC installs the wall and vegetation, he believes it would help the neighbors’ existing problems with noise.
“Right now, they don’t have to do anything” to mitigate noise, Kaufman said. Building the wall to allow the pool club would cut noise during camp hours, he said.