Editor's note: More information from this meeting will be added to the article later on Wednesday.
Darien Planning & Zoning Commission members had a lengthy debate Tuesday about whether or not to allow field lights to be raised to 30 feet on two town playing fields.
No final decision was made, but three commission members indicated they generally supported the proposal, two more were opposed and one didn't give a strong hint either way.
At the end of the discussion, the commission decided to do no more that night than postpone the matter until the next board meeting and have the Planning & Zoning Department further look into the matter.
Joseph Spain, vice chairman of the board, said the Darien Junior Football League had not shown that the higher temporary lights would avoid creating more of a bother to neighbors of Darien High School or at the Holahan fields behind Town Hall, the two places where the Darien Junior Football League wants to place them.
Reese Hutchison said it seemed logical to suppose that higher lights than the 20-foot ones used until now could be angled downward more, which should reduce the amount of light that might reach neighbors.
When questioned by Hutchison, Spain agreed that if the lights were angled properly and if baffles were put on the lights to shield the glare, that could improve the situation. But he added that this should be proven with tests before the lights go up for the fall season.
Hutchison argued that "simple geometry" should be convincing enough for the board to approve higher lights which should be presumed to bother neighbors less because they would be angled downward more.
Spain noted that evergreen trees have been planted, and they should be blocking light from the 20-foot lights not too many years down the road. Raising the lights from 20 to 30 feet would make the growing evergreens much less useful for years to come, he said.
Susan Cameron disagreed with Spain's contention that tests so far had not made the case for higher lights. She said the football league has largely done what it could do to keep the lights from bothering neighbors.
Chairman Fred Conze said that better testing could be done before the P&Z approves lights for the fields.
Eric Voigt indicated he thought the commission should allow the lights to be raised.
Kevin Cunningham largely kept quiet during the discussion. He didn't indicate how he might vote on the proposals, but he said he wished he could see the lights at 30 feet before deciding.
"Until you actually see it in practice," he said, "it's hard to rule on it."