CEDAR GROVE, NJ – The vote to approve the site plan for Sports Domain Academy’s proposed soccer dome at 20 Sand Park Road was once again pushed back after another marathon Zoning Board meeting on Tuesday.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, 16 people spoke up against the plan while six residents supported Sports Domain’s proposal.
Sports Domain Academy currently has facilities in Montclair and Clifton and is looking to construct a turf field on the property behind Noble Gift Packaging in Cedar Grove’s industrial park. Sports Domain is seeking relief from the parking space requirements, a secondary use variance which will allow the property to be used for two purposes and a third variance related to the parking area.
This was the fifth public hearing and the conclusion of countless hours of testimony from Frank Matarazzo, the site plan engineer, Sports Domain Academy owner Ashley Hammond, consultant planner Peter Steck, and Donato Fraoli, the CEO of the dome enclosure company. Residents of Anderson Parkway and the surrounding neighborhood have also voiced concerns at previous meetings about the hours of operation (approximately 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.), lights shining into homes and noise disturbance from games and whistles.
At the last meeting in November, Sports Domain attorney Michael Sullivan amended the application so that the soccer dome would now remain up throughout the year. Originally the proposed turf field was going to be covered with a dome from November to March, with the dome being removed during warmer months. This change was in response to resident concerns about field lights shining into their homes and eliminates the need for outdoor field lighting.
However this change has not satisfied residents of Anderson Parkway and the surrounding areas who are still concerned about the noise, security and the impact the dome will have on their property values.
Mark Petrochko of Lakewood Ave. raised concerns about traffic and asked if a traffic study had been conducted on the impact the dome would have on the small feeder roads throughout the town, like Lakewood Ave. which connects Ridge Road to Bowden Road and could potentially be a route for out of town users of the dome. The board said the number of anticipated vehicles did not warrant a traffic study. Petrochko pointed out that there is already heavy traffic on Lakewood because of the middle school and he felt a vote for the soccer dome would change the integrity of the town.
Resident Joe Tencza plays soccer at the Montclair Soccer Dome and spoke in support of Sports Domain Academy’s proposal, noting that the newer technology would reduce noise in the proposed dome. He also emphasized that the men playing in his soccer league are doctors and other professionals who pay $300 per quarter to play soccer on Thursday nights, not a rowdy group of young adults who wouldn’t respect the neighborhood surrounding the new dome. In addition, he mentioned parents who pay good money for their children to play soccer would not have a negative impact on the town or the surrounding neighborhood.
This was the fifth hearing on Sports Domain Academy’s proposal and concluded the public portion of the hearing. The issue will not be heard at the Jan.12 meeting because St. Mark Coptic Church’s proposal is already on the agenda. The date of the next meeting concerning Sports Domain will be announced that night.