June 8, 2023

City of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigley. (Picture by Dion Ogust)

It’s lights out for a proposed native legislation within the City of Ulster creating requirements for out of doors lighting, with Supervisor James E. Quigley, III saying if enacted, the laws may influence as many as half of all property homeowners. 

“With each legislation comes unintended penalties,” mentioned Quigley throughout a City Board assembly held on Thursday, Could 18. The supervisor mentioned that some council-members drove across the group to see how the legislation could possibly be utilized.

“They began reporting again to me that we had been establishing a scenario the place most likely 50 % of the city’s inhabitants may file complaints towards the opposite 50 %.”

Quigley added that he would seemingly discover himself within the latter group below the letter of the proposed legislation. 

“Taking that legislation and taking a look at my very own driveway and the quantity of sunshine that periodically goes off my property into the adjoining lot, I’d fall sufferer to that legislation,” he mentioned. 

Earlier this month, the City Board held a public listening to on the proposed legislation almost two months after some native residents reported issues about video surveillance by neighbors. At a Could 4 assembly, city legal professional Jason Kovacs saying that if adopted, the lighting legislation can be the primary such laws within the municipality. 

“Proper now our city code doesn’t have something in there relating to gentle trespass or gentle privateness or safety of citizen’s privateness so this is step one in the direction of creating in our city code some provisions regulating out of doors lighting, notably gentle that travels from one property to a different, and focuses lights on going downward as a substitute of outward,” Kovacs mentioned. “As well as this for the primary time defines gentle trespass below a city legislation and regulates it and makes it a violation.”

Among the many highlights within the proposed legislation had been that lights have to be shielded in such a approach as to direct all gentle downward and away from reflective surfaces; properties requiring floodlighting should use cut-off lighting fixtures to stop shining onto adjoining properties or into the night time sky; and companies with cover constructions will need to have recessed lights; the depth of LED indicators have to be lowered between sundown and dawn; and electrically illuminated off-site out of doors promoting is prohibited between 11 p.m. and dawn. Different rules had been based mostly on the lumens of every particular person lamp. 

Violations of the proposed legislation would have ranged between $50-$1,000 for people, and less than $10,000 for any company, affiliation or authorized entity. Every successive violation would have constituted a separate offense. 

On the Could 4 assembly, the proposed legislation was championed by Cynthia Bell, a Ruby resident who lives close to each the Ruby Firehouse and the Ruby Rod and Gun Membership. 

“I’d first like to precise my appreciation and admiration for the volunteers who give so generously of their time to verify our group is secure and that there’s the quickest potential response when one in every of our neighbors or ourselves is in bother,” Bell mentioned. “That mentioned I don’t perceive why there must be three straight road lights and a number of other door lights in addition to a lighted digital signal going all night time each night time. None of those lights are hooded.”

Bell mentioned that the firehouse lighting is vivid sufficient to light up your complete property as much as the treetops and into neighboring properties. 

“There appears to be no specific function to this aside from to supply safety for the assorted private leisure autos that usually park there,” Bell mentioned. “It looks like an amazing waste of assets and it shines proper in our bed room window. We’ve had to purchase picket blinds there so as to have the ability to sleep.”

Bell mentioned that the extreme lighting was additionally having an influence on the agricultural attraction of the group. 

“These components are actually affecting the wildlife in our group particularly the birds,” Bell mentioned. “We additionally get pleasure from seeing the celebs at night time however and it has turn out to be tough to make them out. Now we have extra nighttime gentle than somebody residing subsequent to a comfort retailer with out the comfort.”

Native resident Regis Obijiski mentioned that the proposed legislation as written was , if flawed begin, however he was involved that there was no point out of digital camera surveillance within the laws. 

“We had been hoping that this may be a prelude to a digital camera surveillance legislation in our city,” Obijiski mentioned. “You possibly can have digital camera surveillance happening within the daytime that has nothing to do with out of doors lighting which occurs at within the night time time … or you may have surveillance cameras that take photos with out the necessity of sunshine 24 hours a day. There’s a number of sophistication that goes on with a digital camera.”

Kovacs mentioned that the city remains to be trying into how a digital camera surveillance legislation would look, if it’s even potential. 

“This is step one,” Kovacs mentioned. “I’ve talked to different municipal attorneys and we’re not fairly 100% sure that we will do some kind of regulation of cameras as a consequence of constitutional points, First Modification points.”

The sunshine from the proposed laws shines way back to a city board assembly held on Thursday, March 16, throughout which Regis Obijiski spoke on behalf of an unnamed neighbor who was involved about being surveilled by her next-door neighbor, together with the usage of a motion-activated digital camera fastened on her yard. On the time, Obijiski mentioned he believed municipal laws would align with New York State Civil Rights Legislation Part 52-A, Chapter 6. Article 5, which pertains to the non-public proper of motion for unwarranted video imaging of residential premises, particularly within the yard. 

That laws, revealed on September 24, 2017, claims that “(a)ny proprietor or tenant of residential actual property shall have a non-public proper of motion for damages towards any one who installs or affixes a video imaging gadget on property adjoining such residential actual property for the aim of videotaping or taking transferring digital photographs of the leisure actions which happen within the yard of the residential actual property with out the written consent thereto of such proprietor and/or tenant with intent to harass, annoy or alarm one other individual, or with intent to threaten the individual or property of one other individual.”

Final week, Quigley mentioned that the city’s proposed lighting legislation shortly grew from a dispute between neighbors and was finally deemed by council-members to be presently unsuitable for tighter municipal rules. 

“I proceed to advocate for the 2 neighbors which are having issues, that they maintain a lawyer,” Quigley mentioned. “This can be a civil matter they usually consistently look to the city to arbitrate it. And that isn’t our function.”

The put up Lights out on proposed lighting legislation within the City of Ulster first appeared on Hudson Valley One.