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Westport Backs Deal To Light Staples Field

WESTPORT, Conn. – Friday night football games in Westport may finally become a reality. On Thursday night, the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a legal agreement that would allow permanent lights to be installed on the Staples High School football field.

The commission's backing of the deal, known as a stipulation for judgment, is one step required to help settle a two-year lawsuit that's prevented the town from moving forward with installing permanent lights at the school's field.

In 2009, the commission approved a text amendment that allowed permanent lighting on the field. However, the decision was quickly appealed to the Representative Town Meeting, the town's legislative body, by neighbors who live near the school. After the RTM upheld the decision, it was appealed to the state Superior Court.

Under the agreement, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Education Monday night and approved by the plaintiffs, the lights will be allowed until 8 p.m. during the week for games and practices from September through December, Town Attorney Ira Bloom said. It also allows for the lights to be used for eight "athletic special events" during the year until 10 p.m., and two Saturday events.

"We think this meets the program goals for the school system and I think we've offered something that's fair and reasonable for the neighbors," said Bloom, adding that the plaintiffs did sign off on the agreement. "To accomplish this now is a big deal. This is something many people will enjoy in the years ahead."

The agreement must next be approved by the Superior Court judge who's presided over the lawsuit.

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