Planners OK private 'Field of Dreams'

Disputed sports field will be inspected semi-annually

The two-year long battle over a sports practice field built on a ridgeline ended Tuesday with little fanfare. No impassioned filibusters by neighbors, just a short discussion and a unanimous vote in favor by the Danville Planning Commission.

At their May 26 meeting, members of the Planning Commission were asked again to consider the request by David and Connie Lowe to move 273 cubic yards of soil. The earth was moved as part of grading for the sports field the Lowes built for their son and his Little League baseball team in August 2007. However, the work was done without the permission of the town.

The issue was initially denied by the commission due to a 14-foot fence, batting cages and lights for the field. Neighbors complained about the height of the fence, lights and potential drainage issues caused by retaining walls.

Earlier this year the plan was back before the Planning Commission with lowered fences and no lights. However, neighbors continued to express concerns about landscaping, irrigation, drainage and other issues. The commission directed the Lowe family to go through the Design Review Board before bringing it back.

At their Tuesday meeting, commissioners looked at a scaled down request which no longer mentioned batting cages or lights and presented a fence that would be five feet in height.

Mike Milani, President of the engineering firm Milani and Associates, addressed the commission.

"The last time we met there were a number of issues you asked us to address. We've addressed them," he said. He outlined their discussions with the Design Review Board and the recommendations they had made.

Commissioner Renee Morgan asked about the potential hazards of lead or lead runoff from the artificial turf on the field. Milani explained that the amount of lead in the product was minimal. He added that a person would have to ingest quantities of the turf material for the lead to be an issue.

In addressing drainage concerns, Milani said they had seen no significant change in drainage down the hill as a result of the retaining walls. The resolution calls for semi-annual inspections of the property to see if the structure is causing any change in drainage.

No opponents came forward during the public hearing, so the commission held its discussion on the matter, with the main issue revolving around inspection of the property. Commissioner Lynn Overcashier suggested that rather than have twice yearly inspections of the property, they inspect once a year during the rainy season.

Commissioner Robert Combs said he trusted in the advice of the staff, which recommended twice a year. Other commissioners agreed and Overcashier said she would be willing to do twice a year, but wanted specific wording on it.

"I don't want him (Lowe) getting accused if he doesn't do it right at every six months," she stated.

Commissioners unanimously approved the Lowe's request, with inspections being done twice a year. It also has to be approved by the Town Council.

After the meeting, the Lowe family declined to comment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Citizen Paine
a resident of Danville
on May 29, 2009 at 6:27 am

The Town of Danville needs to adopt the toothless tiger as its mascot. Why bother seeking permission in advance, when you can thumb your nose at the planners, and then receive their forgiveness later?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Danville
on May 29, 2009 at 11:35 am

I say congrats to the Lowes and enjoy the ball field. Seems like it didn't have the continued community concern at least not enough to have the field removed... which would have been a waste. Sounds to me like the Town of Danville is getting reasonable... my guess is that nobody else will put a ball field in their back yard without checking with the town.

I say enjoy and invite the neighbors to a game or two!

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Posted by Citizen Paine
a resident of Danville
on Jul 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm

So said Fred: " guess is that nobody else will put a ball field in their back yard without checking with the town."

Or a pool? Or an addition? Or anything? C'mon, Fred -- use your imagination. This approval was not limited to "ridge-top baseball fields." The Danville planning staff has been very difficult to work-with, when residents play by the rules and actually, you know, seek permits and such.

Who knew it was a much better strategy to just ignore them, and their pesky stop-work orders? I would be interested to hear from the Planners on this subject, but I won't hold my breath.

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