Quinnipiac applies to demolish east end of North Lot to install tennis courts

Cat Murphy, Associate News Editor

Quinnipiac University officials submitted applications in March to install six tennis courts and eight 50-foot light poles in North Lot.

The university’s building applications, which the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission began hearing on April 11, indicate that university officials intend to demolish the far east end of North Lot to construct the courts. The proposed tennis courts would permanently eliminate 145 student parking spaces in North Lot, reducing the lot’s current student parking capacity by more than 20%.

The building plans also seem to indicate that the proposed demolition would render nearly 45% of the lot’s student parking spaces unusable for the duration of the construction. However, it is unclear if university officials, pending approval from the Hamden PZC, intend to overhaul the parking lot over the summer.

“I understand that we have a very competitive women’s tennis team,” said Ari Hyman, a senior political science major and the president of the Quinnipiac Commuter Student Union. “But we also have a very competitive race to a parking spot in the morning.”

Quinnipiac University officials are hoping to replace more than 20% of the 616 student parking spaces in North Lot with tennis courts. (Building plan via town of Hamden)

Expressing concerns about the university’s plan to accommodate commuter student parking, Hyman recalled a comment Chief Experience Officer Tom Ellett made at the 2022 State of the QUnion.

“Tom Ellett said he believes commuters could always park at the York Hill garage and shuttle down to main,” Hyman said. “I have a feeling if this goes through … that idea would be brought up again, where commuters would have to commute from their commute.”

John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, declined to comment on the university’s applications while the public hearing is ongoing.

But this is not the first time university officials have sought to construct tennis courts on the Mount Carmel Campus.

Quinnipiac officials applied in April 2021 to build new tennis courts on the university’s main campus after demolishing the campus’ previous tennis facilities amid construction on the Recreation and Wellness Center.

The town of Hamden’s residential zoning code caps building heights at 35 feet. Accordingly, the zoning regulations applicable to the main campus at the time required university officials to receive a variance from the Hamden Zoning Board of Appeals to construct the 50-foot light poles included in Quinnipiac’s tennis court application.

Within seven months of submitting their initial applications to rebuild tennis courts on the Mount Carmel Campus, university officials withdrew their applications from the Hamden PZC and ZBA in November 2021.

Quinnipiac officials subsequently applied in May 2022 to construct tennis courts on the university’s North Haven Campus. However, facing pushback from North Haven residents concerned about the potential light, noise and traffic consequences of the tennis courts, the university withdrew its applications with the North Haven PZC in early November 2022.

Simultaneously, Quinnipiac officials sought to rezone the Mount Carmel Campus as a planning and development district.

PDD zones are designed “to encourage and accommodate unique and desirable development that is not able to be accommodated by conventional zoning,” per an Oct. 13 zoning update issued by the Hamden PZC.

Accordingly, university officials argued that the limitations of the campus’ previous residential zoning designation were incompatible with the university’s $293 million South Quad project.

But university officials reapplied to construct six tennis courts and eight 50-foot light poles on the Mount Carmel Campus only after the Hamden PZC voted to designate the campus as a PDD in December.

Unlike Hamden’s residential zoning regulations, the town’s PDD regulations — which Quinnipiac officials helped the town draft in mid-2022 — allow structures as tall as 60 feet.

“We actually helped them craft the language to put it forward,” Sal Filardi, vice president for facilities and capital planning, told the Chronicle in October. “It keeps us out of trying to get variances through the Zoning Board of Appeals process.”

The university’s multi-part application also includes plans to construct a new shuttle stop along New Road. Quinnipiac officials intend to construct the stop, which the Hamden Traffic Authority preliminarily approved in December 2022, between the Echlin Center building and the Peter C. Hereld House for Jewish Life.

The Harwood Gate Lot stop opened less than nine months ago to replace the previous South Lot stop, which university officials closed and subsequently demolished amid construction on the South Quad project.

However, Filardi confirmed in November 2022 that the proposed shuttle stop “is intended to replace” the stop currently located in the Harwood Gate Lot.

Filardi also said that the proposed shuttle stop relocation is unlikely to be permanent.

“The New Road shuttle stop is temporary,” Filardi wrote in a Nov. 23 email to the Chronicle. “Once the three new buildings are completed, the location of shuttle stops will be revisited and future shuttle stops may be in different locations.”

University officials also applied to construct a guardhouse, presumably for Public Safety officers, at the facilities entrance on New Road.

The Hamden PZC continued the public hearing on Quinnipiac’s applications to April 25.