UPDATE: Ox Ridge Field usage application filed by town; input welcomed

The Town of Darien has filed its application with the Planning & Zoning Commission for proposed use of the town-owned approximately 16 acres on the site of the previously named Ox Ridge Hunt Club.

The proposed programmed activity would be both active and passive recreation. From September until March the hours would be Monday to Friday, 7 to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to dusk. On Saturdays, the hours would be 9 a.m. to the earlier of 6 p.m. or dusk and Sundays from 12 p.m. to the earlier of 6 p.m. or dusk.

From April through August, the hours would be Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

A field area is located toward the center of the site, and a half-mile stone chip walking path is proposed around the property to provide access to the fields and a walking, jogging or rolling trail.

No site lighting is proposed.

Two separate parking areas are proposed that consist of porous asphalt drive aisles and gravel parking spaces. A total of 92 formal parking spaces are provided in the two parking areas. Both parking areas feature one-way traffic circulation to prevent any dead-end conditions and allow for narrower entrance and exit drives.

Neighbors of the property and other residents have objected to any active recreation and have created a presentation requesting only passive use.

A gravel area is proposed to house a portable bathroom and a 240-square foot equipment shed. The shed will house maintenance equipment and materials in addition to Parks and Recreation equipment used on-site. Opaque wooden fencing is located along the south and southeastern side of the area to provide screening.

Planning & Zoning Chairman John Sini said his commission’s role in the 560 Middlesex Road property approval process is “rather limited.”  

“Under existing zoning regulations, the Town has a right to use this property for recreational purposes, as long as the application meets the the standards of approval for a special permit which include the healthy, safety, welfare of the public, in general, and the immediate neighborhood, in particular,” he told The Darien Times in an email Wednesday.

“This means that the Commission’s role is essentially a basic administrative review process.  We will not be directly addressing the usage policy decision already made by the Board of Selectmen,” Sini said.  

“The irony is, if the town dedicated the property as parkland, it would be able to proceed with recreational use of the property as of right, with no special permit review,” he said.

The tentative public hearing date is May 15 at 8 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium. Comments can be sent to the commission by email to jginsberg@darienct.gov.