The Planning and Zoning Commission approved Tuesday a controversial project that seeks to enlarge the pool pavilion at the New Canaan Field Club.

The unanimous approval, which includes 16 conditions, came after a two-part public hearing -- held in July and August -- where neighbors voiced concerns about potential additional activities in the new facility that could increase noise and lighting levels and negatively affect property values in the area.

The club, at 164 Smith Ridge Road, plans to increase the pavilion's footprint by 127 percent, add a half floor and a large deck and move the wading pool.

Noting that the project meets the commission's special permit criteria, Commissioner John Goodwin said the building upgrade was long due and that neighbors would soon have "a much prettier, much more attractive club" next door.

"I think this is an important update," he said. "I think you could make a very good case that this will raise home values in the neighborhood."

The structure was built in the 1960s and club officials have said it needs plumbing, electrical, structural and safety improvements. The facility, which will have an elevator, will be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The main pavilion, located on the north side of the pools, would not be renovated as part of the project.

More Information

Key conditions for the New Canaan Field Club building project:
Loud speakers or sound systems may not be installed on the exterior of the pool pavilion
All lighting and activities must shut down no later than 10 p.m.
Only members can rent the pavilion
On-street parking is prohibited
The club must remove the wall ball court
When the driveway is repaved, the club must install speed bumps and signage
Noise-generating construction is prohibited on weekends

In an emailed statement, Glen Drive resident Kelly Hennigan, the most outspoken opponent of the project, seemed disappointed with the decision.

"The neighbors were hoping for a different outcome, particularly based on the concerns we expressed regarding the additional top floor's size and ability to host 300 people on a year-round basis," she wrote.

The new facility could accommodate 229 people in the common room and 69 on the deck. Goodwin said he didn't find the size of the building "egregious," considering the size of the club's property -- 11 acres.

The proposed expansion would bring the building's total area from 3,758 to 8,524 square feet, which is within the limit allowed by the town code. The facility has a basement and a main floor, and the proposal includes an additional level, described as a half floor because of its low height. The building would house the club's youth enrichment program, which operates outdoor and sometimes under tents, and new locker rooms.

One key condition imposed by the commission prohibits the club from renting the pavilion to outside individuals or organizations for non-club related functions.

Other conditions, most of which were proposed by the applicants themselves, include a modified landscape plan, which should be approved by the commission, to provide additional screening between the pavilion and properties located south of the club; no loud speakers or sound systems should be installed on the exterior of the pool pavilion; all lighting and activities must shut down no later than 10 p.m.; and speed bumps and signage must be installed on the driveways following repaving.

David Rucci, an attorney representing the club, said he was pleased with the commission's "well-thoughout" decision.

"I think the conditions were appropriate for the application," he said. "I think the commission did a good job in reviewing the project.

"I always said throughout this whole process, we are really talking about interior space," Rucci added. "These are activities the club can already do outside and bringing them inside is only going to create a better environment for the neighbors."

The only condition added during Tuesday's meeting was proposed by Commissioner Kent Turner, who requested prohibiting noise-generating construction on weekends.

Michael Donnelly, the club's president, could not be reached for comment., 203-330-6582, @olivnelson