Southampton Village is considering changes to its code because of...

Southampton Village is considering changes to its code because of pickleball noise. Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

Tennis courts are common on private properties in affluent parts of Southampton Village, leaving municipal leaders concerned of the potentially noisy consequences if those surfaces are modified for playing pickleball.

The village board is considering code changes to address noise complaints related to pickleball, a sport that has surged in popularity in the last decade.

Village attorney Eileen Powers said during a public hearing Thursday that if a homeowner puts pickleball lines on a tennis court, under proposed code changes, it would be deemed a pickleball court. 

The noise generated by the pop-pop-pop of a plastic pickleball striking a paddle also has stirred resentment from some residents within earshot of pickleball courts in other Long Island locations.

In East Hampton Village, a homeowner filed a lawsuit against the village last year to try to halt construction of pickleball courts during a park renovation. A judge later dismissed the suit.

In the Town of Oyster Bay, some nearby neighbors raised concerns last year about three pickleball courts at Pine Hollow Country Club in East Norwich that included noise complaints.

Southampton Village's proposed changes include:

  • An existing tennis court can't be modified for pickleball if it isn't at least 30 feet from all property lines.
  • Pickleball courts need a -6foot fence on three sides with acoustic fencing that blocks sound.
  • All courts must be installed in rear or side yards.
  • Only one “playing court” — a revision from “tennis court” — is allowed on a residential property.

The proposed changes have faced some pushback, including from Trustee Roy Stevenson, who argued last week that the village needs more input before adopting any changes — which he called “an overreaction.”

“We don’t want people sitting inside looking at their computers. We want them outside enjoying this beautiful place,” Stevenson added.

The proposed changes would put the same restrictions on padel, a racket sport that also is growing in popularity and bringing its own noise concerns.

Douglas DeGroot, president of Hamptons Tennis Company, which builds playing courts and operates tennis clubs, questioned during the public hearing whether the proposed fencing requirement would make a difference.

“I don’t even think anyone has done the science and the research to say that that is really going to change how things sound,” he said.

DeGroot’s company operates Triangle Tennis Club in Southampton Village. Last year, the club debuted the first padel court in the village. 

One neighbor who lives close to the court complained during the public hearing about the “cacophony of noise.”

“It’s not like tennis, it’s more like aggressive soccer,” added Brian Davis, 71, a village resident. “It’s a nightmare.”

Another neighbor disagreed.

Sara Nardi, 58, who said she lives in the same condo complex as Davis, said the padel court has been quieter than the club's tennis courts. 

Other proposed changes would add pickleball to an existing code that requires village residents to get a permit to play at courts the village owns or maintains. Another change would add pickleball to an existing code that restricts play on public outdoor courts during overnight hours.  

The village board, which meets next Feb. 20, plan to continue discussing the proposed changes at a future meeting.

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