November deadline set for resolution of Koret Field feud

Unless Notre Dame de Namur University and its Belmont neighbors resolve their differences over the use of Koret Field by November, the school could face revocation of its use permit for the $1 million synthetic surface.

On Tuesday, the Belmont Planning Commission set Nov. 20 as a possible date for a revocation hearing, giving both sides just more than 90 days to come to an agreement about the use of the field for athletic events.

A small group of neighbors, led by Risa Horowitz — who lives on Ralston Avenue across from the field — has repeatedly complained to the city that the field is being used for events not intended for the site.

In a worst-case scenario, the school would be unable to use the field without the permit, even for its own events, such as graduations and the school’s athletic events.

Community Development Director Carlos de Melo said that while the permit could be revoked in November, he is sure that the two sides will find a solution that allows activities on the field.

“I’m very positive that positive steps will be made in the next 90 to 120 days,” de Melo said. “Nobody — concerned citizens, the school or the city — wants this field to be shut down.”

When the field was planned in 2005, De Melo said the city and university set a very strict set of guidelines for the field’s use: conditions included a prohibition on early practice times and adult sports leagues. The whistles, public announcement system and fan noisemakers at the field also test Belmont’s noise ordinance.

Horowitz — who said she empathizes with the students who may be affected — said she called the Belmont Police Department on Sunday, after seeing a group of students playing on the field. Although she said they were not causing a disturbance, using the field on Sundays is prohibited.

“It has nothing to do with disturbances,” Horowitz said. “When it comes to violations of the [conditional use permit], it’s a violation of the CUP, period.”

Notre Dame spokesman Richard Rossi said the school has installed security cameras to monitor the field for unauthorized uses.

Rossi said school leaders felt a task force set up by the city in April was making progress on the issue. The hearing, he said, will damage those efforts.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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