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Neighbors continue to oppose the idea of additional events at Polo Grounds

By Paul Palmer

Staff Writer

FARMINGTON – People who live near the Farmington Polo Grounds continue to press the Town Plan and Zoning Commission to reject a request to allow more events to be held at the Town Farm Road location. They say noise levels from existing events already impair their ability to enjoy their property and say that some of the people attending events create dangerous conditions with unsafe driving.

Town Farm Development LLC which owns the property, submitted an application to modify the conditions of approved special permits that have been governing activities. They are looking to add several non-equestrian and non-polo events, to raise that number to 25 events each year. Nearby residents complained that they are already bombarded with noise from Friday through Sunday three seasons of the year, and granting Town Farm Development’s request would make a bad situation worse.

When it comes to noise, neighbors say that when polo matches are being held at the grounds, the combination of music and play-by-play coming over the speakers can be heard up to half a mile away from the grounds. They are also upset that the number of so called “Coffee and Cars” events held on Sundays at the Polo Grounds will increase, causing more noise from revving engines, and dangerous conditions along Town Farm Road and adjacent streets from participants.

“The expanded use of permits has impacted all of us in the area,” said Devonwood resident Pierre Guertin. “Special permits are dangerous when they don’t have specific conditions and these previous conditions have not been specific.”

Susan Dahle and her husband live just down Town Farm Road from the Polo Grounds property. She invited Commission members to come to their home to see and hear firsthand what they deal with during the events. “If you’ve ever been to a raceway, that’s what we hear on our road, she told the Commission.” Her husband Dave pleaded with the Commission to give neighbors some relief. “At least give us 1 day when we don’t have to hear the cars.”

Attorney Christian Hoheb, who represented Town Farm Development at the hearing, said his clients are already working on ways to lessen any impact on neighbors. “We’ve been imperfect and caused inconvenience,” he said. “We feel badly about that.” He and David Falt of Town Farm Development and the Polo Club then laid out a series of steps they have already taken to address complaints ahead of the upcoming season when it comes to the car shows. Those include moving the start time of the car shows to 8:30 a.m. from 8 a.m. on Sundays; Hiring three Farmington Police officers to patrol along Town Farm Road and on the Polo Grounds during the shows to deal with unsafe drivers. They are also putting up lighted message boards reminding participants to respect the neighbors and warning that any repeat offender will be barred from the grounds.

As for the issue with noise from the polo matches, the applicant presented a study they conducted on the grounds using a copy of the audio from a previous polo match. Devices used to measure the decibel range were then placed along the fence near Town Farm Road. The results, according to them, showed that the only time the noise level exceeded town ordinances was when cars or trucks passed by on the road, and were not from the polo matches.

“They care and are committed to getting along with their neighbors,” Hoheb said of his clients. “I don’t think we intentionally breached nearby neighbors’ peace.”

Even with those promises and the sound study, neighbors say not only should the extension of events not be granted, but something still needs to be done about the existing events. “Pretty much every weekend in the spring, summer, and fall,” said Anne Gerard of nearby Chiltern Street. “There is no way to squelch the level of sound that comes in.” Gerard’s neighbor Gary Ontko said it is not about what Town Farms Development believes is a reasonable sound level. “What really matters to the people who live in the homes Is what that sounds like to the people impacted.” He also wondered what message the continued granting of the special permits for more events and changes to events will have in the future. “There’s never been a year when they’ve asked for less events. Where do we go next year?” Ontko asked.

The April 24 public hearing stretched on into the early morning hours of the 25th due to the length of agenda items.

The public hearing on the application will continue at the Plan and Zoning Commission meeting on May 8.


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