Locals oppose Quinnipiac’s plan to install eight 50-foot light poles at new tennis courts

Chatwan Mongkol, News Editor

Hamden and North Haven residents are unhappy about Quinnipiac University’s tennis courts relocation plan that includes the installation of eight new 50-foot light poles in the area where the zoning regulation only permits a maximum height of 35 feet.   

The university applied for a variance with the Hamden Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The public hearing for the application was scheduled for June 17, but it was canceled.

Quinnipiac University seeks approval to install eight 50-foot light poles in the area where the zoning regulation permits a maximum height of 35 feet. (Chatwan Mongkol)

Prior to the scheduled hearing, a petition against the plan, which was signed by 30 Hamden and North Haven residents, was sent to the ZBA. The letter said Quinnipiac does not meet the standard for a variance.

“Quinnipiac has not proven that any unusual hardship exists,” the petition stated. 

According to the application, 50 feet is the minimum height the university can design to ensure health and safety of the players as well as to meet NCAA guidelines. It said a strict adherence to the current regulatory height would increase the probability of serious injuries.

“A shorter pole would result in (an) indirect focus that would cause glare into the eyes of players at either end of the court which would increase the potential that they could ‘loose’ a ball traveling towards them in the lights,” Quinnipiac’s application stated.

Two other hardships detailed in the university’s application were that the zoning regulation does not address athletic facility training and that the height of the eight light poles would be approximately the same as the existing poles on the road considering the location’s topography.

Besides the opposing petition, there were at least five letters sent to the ZBA to urge the board to deny the university’s request.

“The area is residential and across from Sleeping Giant State park,” wrote Nancy Navarretta, a Hamden resident. “Please preserve the quality of life in the surrounding area and do not approve this request.”

Another resident Sandra Biller also said that the existing 35-foot light poles have already polluted the night sky with artificial lighting.

Besides the plan for new light poles, the petition also opposes the university’s plan to relocate its tennis courts.

“Quinnipiac has numerous places on campus where the tennis courts could be built, including keeping them in their current location,” the petition stated. “Rather, Quinnipiac has decided to relocate the tennis courts purely for convenience and because it ‘wants to.’ Residents of Hamden and North Haven have taken a backseat to Quinnipiac for far too long.”

The tennis court relocation plan came as the new recreation and wellness center’s construction is underway. This project will cost students 145 parking spaces in the North Lot. Vice President for Facilities and Capital Planning Sal Filardi told The Chronicle that students can expect to use the new courts in the fall 2021 semester.

A public hearing for the plan was originally scheduled for June 22, but the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission voted on June 22, to continue the hearing on July 27.