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A public hearing about a proposal for soccer training at a former Freeman Road stable will be held as part of the Orchard Park Town Board's meeting at 7 tonight in Town Hall.
About 200 neighbors signed a petition opposing the proposal by the Orchard Park Soccer Club to train young soccer players inside what had been an arena for horses. People who live around the edges of what was once the seven acres of Quakerfield Stables worry that indoor soccer training will evolve into noisy outdoor soccer.
"Eventually they will turn it into a big soccer field. I believe that down the road it will happen. It only makes sense," said Sonja Hambridge, who lives on Midway Drive, and whose yard borders the stable grounds. She fears that people like her who count on enjoying their backyards in the evenings and on weekends would be subjected to the noise of outdoor games.
"It would diminish the value of their property," she said. "I think it would be very unfair."
Hambridge also is concerned about soccer traffic getting in the way of joggers and bicyclists.
"If there is more traffic, it would be a problem for them," she said. "There is no sidewalk."
The nonprofit soccer club has said the stables would be a training alternative that is less expensive than its current practice of spending about $50,000 a year to rent indoor space for some of its 800 to 1,000 young players.
Mike Clough, club president, has said there are no plans to move outdoors. The property is oddly shaped and not suited for soccer fields, he said.
The Town Board has spent time considering the matter in the weeks since the Planning Board voted, 4 to 1, to approve the club. The panel has visited the stables and listened to the club's plan.
Tonight the panel expects to hear many of the objections. A lawyer representing the neighbors will make a presentation at a 6 p.m. work session before the meeting. During the 7 p.m. meeting, people will be able to speak to the board about their concerns. A vote will be scheduled for a future meeting.
"Obviously we're going to have a lot to think about," said Councilman Michael Sherry.