Dispute over bright light

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A Richmond law office is deflecting complaints of light pollution tonight after a couple residents called 12 on Your Side for help speeding up the process.

Unwanted light is every bit as upsetting as noise pollution, but when neighbors called us they didn't believe the city was moving fast enough. A decision was made today.

This is the light neighbors say disrupts the comfort of home. It's in the parking lot of Sharon Horner and Associates on Patterson. No doubt it's for staff security but two neighbors, one street over say it's so bright, it's obtrusive.

"At 4 in the morning we have this giant light right through our bedroom windows," said Tom Thompson.

"We never really have to turn a light on during the night. It's bright enough in here where we don't need to turn on a bedside lamp," said Kathleen Thompson.

The 24 foot pole with two, 1000 watt bulbs was erected without an electrical permit and without zoning approval. The city cited the business last summer.

"Nothing has been done. The light is every bit as bright today as it was in July," said Tom.

The neighbors want less light trespassing on their yards, invading privacy and disrupting sleep.

"The zoning department has not been willing to act in a forceful manner to get this taken care of. They supposedly have given her time," said neighbor David Luebke.

"What we always try to do is work with our property owners. That's what we've been doing in this case and in fact the property made steps to try to remedy the situation," said Brook Hardin, Richmond Planning Deputy Director.

After several attempts to reach the owner, Sharon Horner left me a message yesterday. She says she has complied and is unaware of any violation. She referred me to her general contractor who told me, he paid the fine, and applied for a permit. He also submitted a photo-metric study which examined where the light lands and how far it travels.

"It needs a little bit of fine tuning which we're going to do with a shield which is a piece of metal which is going to come past the fixture, one and a quarter inches," said General Contractor George Avgeros.

The city approved that fix just this afternoon. Unlike the temporary shield which melted away in 3 days, Avgeros says it will condense the light's radius, focusing it more on the lot.

"It's a 3 minute fix for us. Yea I'm very pleased with it," Avgeros said.

The questions now, when will the light shield get installed and, will the neighbors be happy? The law office has to conduct another photo-metric study, with the shield on -- then, the city will give its final approval.

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