NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — A plan to convert Indian Meadows Golf Course into a baseball facility may be underestimating the number of people who will attend games and the noise they will make, Northborough Planning Board members said Tuesday night.
The board will send a letter outlining its concerns to the Zoning Board of Appeals before the ZBA meets Sept. 4.
If the ZBA grants the special permit — and if the town does not exercise its right to purchase the land under Chapter 61B of Massachusetts General Law — New England Baseball will purchase the land for $1.9 million and build four baseball diamonds for the New England Ruffnecks, a youth baseball program for kids ages 13 to 18.
Many abutters of the land are worried that the new facility would become a nuisance and are urging the town to block the proposal. In response, New England Baseball prepared a sound study, conducted by Cavanaugh Tocci Associates Inc.
Brion Koning, of Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, compared sound levels taken at different baseball diamonds in the area with those taken around the Indian Meadows neighborhood. Although the sound would be "different," it would not fall outside of the range of existing sound levels, he said.
"There is no doubt there will be different sound created," said Mark Donahue, attorney for New England Baseball. "The question really becomes whether the volume of the sound will be significantly different."
But New England Baseball is understating game attendance by saying only 15 to 30 people would be at each game, Planning Board Chairman Rick Leif said. Taking into account two teams of 15 to 20 players, their coaches and one family member per player, Leif estimated that each diamond could have 60 to 80 people in it. He asked that these numbers be plugged into the sound study.
"I don't have a problem with the methodology" Leif said. "I have a problem with the assumptions."
Koning said he could adjust his study, although he said doubling the number of attendees would not necessarily double the noise.
Hundreds of people would fit in the bleachers planned for the diamonds, even though New England Baseball representatives say there would never be that many spectators, Leif said.
"There's going to be nervousness, that the potential for a lot of people to be there is there," he said.
Meanwhile, abutters of the golf course at Tuesday night's meeting said they felt confident in their argument against the facility, saying that New England Baseball had overlooked many of their concerns.
"We are convinced more than ever that everything we've heard tonight is nothing new," said Tom Racca, a spokesman for the residents. "It is the same deflections."