NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Baseball Enterprises, LLC, which seeks to purchase the Indian Meadows Golf Course for $1.9 million and convert it into a youth baseball facility, recently made several concessions following a meeting with abutters of the land.
"We wanted to make sure we had a dialogue with the abutters and listened to their concerns," said Andrew Collins, a representative from New England Baseball. "We feel that the modifications made are significant and meaningful, and hope they are evidence of the good faith effort of New England Baseball Enterprises to be responsive to the concerns of the neighborhood."
Many residents who live closest to the course — which is mostly located in Northborough, though its entrance is in Westborough — have complained that their quality of life would suffer if the New England Ruffnecks youth baseball program moved into the planned four-diamond facility. Neighbors have asked the town to purchase the land under Chapter 61B of Massachusetts law. That chapter, which granted a significant recreational land tax break to the owners of Indian Meadows, also gives the town the right to buy the land before anyone else.
In a July 26 letter addressed to the Northborough Zoning Board of Appeals, Mark Donahue, the attorney for New England Baseball, wrote that while the presence of the new facility will be "perceptible" to neighbors, the proposed concessions will allow the Ruffnecks to "co-exist well with the residential abutting neighborhood."
Responding to the charge that light and sound from the facility would become unbearable to those living nearby, Donahue wrote that the two diamonds closest to residential areas will not be equipped with artificial light and that none of the diamonds would have an amplified sound system. In addition, Donahue wrote that a manure-vegetated buffer that currently abuts many of the closest properties will help reduce the facility's visibility and act as a sound barrier.
Some residents worried that players will be able to hit baseballs into their property. Donahue said that the distance between home plate and the closest home will be about 480 feet — too far for most, if not all, 12-to-18-year-olds to hit a ball. He added that outfield fences will be eight feet high in any case, and wrote that New England Baseball would be willing to look into protective netting if that did not prove effective.
Donahue added that this fencing, along with planned vegetation near Indian Meadows Drive, would prevent players and spectators from wandering onto neighboring property. He also wrote that vehicles would not be able to access the facility through Indian Meadows Drive.
Finally, to those who worried about being kept up all night by late games, Donahue wrote about new scheduling limits on the two diamonds closest to neighboring homes. During summer, activity will not begin before 8:30 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends. During the school year, nothing will begin before 3 p.m. In addition, throughout the week, all activity on those two diamonds will cease by 8 p.m.
Representatives from New England Baseball are scheduled to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Aug. 6 to petition for a special permit to build their facility.