"I do not want to regulate batting cages when they have an acre of property."
Conditions on using the batting cage arose primarily from neighbors' complaints of noise — particularly the ping of a baseball hitting a metal bat. But the council also addressed complaints about the Mullers' 6-foot-high wall — which neighbors contend could damage trees along the property line — a sport court built in the frontyard and noise from the family's penned chickens.
The council devised several conditions for the use of the cage, including limiting its use to 90 minutes a day; requiring use of only taped wooden bats; soundproofing on poles and around the perimeter of the cage; an arborist, at the Mullers' expense, to determine how best to handle the trees that the wall encroaches upon; no lighting and removal of a sport court in the front yard.
The Mullers must also pay permit and penalty fees for installing a slab of cement for the cage before obtaining the proper permit from the city.
"I didn't view it as a structure," Ridge Muller said in defense of building the cage before obtaining the proper permit.
Much of council members' comments wavered between concern for respecting city building codes and limiting neighbor-against-neighbor conflict.
I don't want to do this again and again," City Councilwoman Laura Olhasso said. "It gives me a pit in my stomach."
The Mullers' batting cage is the third one the council has considered , Mayor Greg Brown.
"Kids have a right to have a safe place to play," Muller said, "That's part of the community."
Muller and his wife are life-long La Cañada Flintridge residents who chose to build the cage when a public batting cage in the Glendale area closed in February of 2006.
During the 45 days his family used the cage before city officials denied use of it in March, Muller's son's Little League team used the cage twice, amounting to about 75 minutes each time, Muller said.
The council's restrictions prohibit the batting cage to be used by large numbers of people.
Walter Lewis, whose property abuts the Muller property, and who had been opposed to the batting cage, said Tuesday that with the restrictions in place, there's hope neighbors can coexist peacefully.
"We might have a situation that we can live with," he said.