Yale wants to expand its Branford sailing center, the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club, but neighbors in the small community of Short Beach are wary.

Last week, Branford-based lawyer David Gibson presented the University’s plans to a meeting of the Civic Association of Short Beach.  The Club is the home of Yale’s varsity sailing team and also offers sailing lessons to community members. The expansion plans would see Yale replacing two existing residential buildings with a new boat storage facility and housing for the director of the sailing program and his or her family.

Short Beach residents turned out to the meeting in such great numbers that Fire Marshal Tom Mahoney arrived to intervene, shutting the meeting down, the New Haven Register reported.  The Association will meet again this evening at a fire station in order to accommodate a crowd.

At last week’s meeting, Association president Barry Beletsky raised concerns that the project would increase congestion, while attendee Peggy Carpenter told the Register she worried the new buildings would tower over existing homes and replace trees.

Beletsky said the Association had not been told where 11 planned new parking places would go. He told Gibson he wanted to see more information about how the project would affect the neighborhood, especially with regard to traffic flow.

“I don’t see that there’s enough information showing what the situation is now, what you’re proposing and how the problem you see now is being solved,” Beletsky said at the meeting.

The Register reported that the University entered a sales contract to purchase the land parcels, located across the street from the club’s existing structures at 179 Clark Ave. in Short Beach—about a 20 minute drive from Old Campus—from property owner Barbara Davidson Bailey.

Before construction can proceed, however, the University must obtain permits from the Civic Association of Short Beach.  The Statement of Use document University spokesman Tom Conroy provided to the News shows that Yale is seeking to obtain permission to allow construction “by a nonprofit membership club” the yacht club — on the lots zoned only for residential buildings.

The University also needs a special permit to construct a boat storage facility that will include housing for club employees. Under Short Beach zoning law, all dwellings must be detached, meaning the proposed housing can’t be built in conjunction with the boat storage building unless Yale secures the permit.

Conroy said the University’s permit applications are nothing unusual.

“Individuals and organization frequently go before property zoning commissions to seek approval for variances to local ordinances,” Conroy said. “That is what Yale did here.”