Residents cry foul over Huron Twp. ballpark

HURON TWP. A developer's plan to build a youth baseball facility on U.S. 250 took a step backward af
May 24, 2010



A developer's plan to build a youth baseball facility on U.S. 250 took a step backward after a zoning meeting where several residents voiced concerns about the proposed American Legends Park.

The meeting was adjourned after about 90 minutes, when John Russell, managing partner for Ballparks of America Land Leasing, withdrew the zoning change request to address the concerns.

More than 80 people turned out for a Huron Township Zoning Commission hearing about rezoning a 104.4-acre parcel, east of U.S. 250 and between Fox and Scheid roads, from residential to commercial.

Residents said development of the land, which stretches back about a mile from the roadway, would cause noise and light pollution, tax public safety services, displace wildlife and create conflicts with farmers.

"I'm not against this project. I'm not against the developer," Fox Road resident Jeff Boos said. "I am against the location of this project."

American Legends Park would offer week-long baseball camps for boys ages 9-12. The first phase of the project, which would include nine fields, dormitories and other facilities, is projected to draw nearly 700 campers each week.

Russell projected $8 million in local economic impact during the camp's first season.

Ballparks of America has already tried to address neighbors' concerns, Russell said. For example, few games will take place after dark, and the fields' lights will be directional to avoid shining onto adjacent properties. In addition, only the main field will have a sound system.

"It is our goal to be good neighbors, to be good corporate citizens," he said.

He withdrew the request for a "blanket" zoning change, which places few restrictions on what can be built on a property. He said the company will re-file for commercial zoning with a planned unit development overlay.

With a planned unit development, building official John Zimmerman explained, township officials could place specific mandates on the development -- for example, requiring tree buffers or prohibiting lights on all but the main field.

The change will require another hearing before the zoning commission, which will make a recommendation to the Huron Township Trustees on whether to approve the zoning change.