June 8, 2023

The Ulster City Board held a public listening to final week on a proposed native legislation creating requirements for outside lighting. The transfer comes practically two months after some native residents reported issues about video surveillance by neighbors. 

The proposed legislation was reviewed throughout a City Board assembly held on Thursday, Might 4, with City Legal professional Jason Kovacs saying that if adopted, it could be the primary such laws within the municipality. 

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

Among the many highlights within the proposed legislation are that lights should be shielded in such a method 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 buildings will need to have recessed lights; the depth of LED indicators should be lowered between sundown and dawn; and electrically illuminated off-site outside promoting is prohibited between 11 p.m. and dawn. Different laws are based mostly on the lumens of every particular person lamp. 

Violations of the proposed legislation would vary between $50-$1,000 for people and no more than $10,000 for any company, affiliation or authorized entity. Every successive violation would represent a separate offense. 

The proposed legislation was feted by Cynthia Bell, a Ruby resident who lives close to each the Ruby Firehouse and the Ruby Rod and Gun Membership. 

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

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

“There appears to be no specific goal to this apart from to offer safety for the assorted private leisure autos that always park there,” Bell mentioned. “It looks like an amazing waste of sources 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 added that the Ruby Rod and Gun Membership had “very kindly and promptly” diminished the variety of lights on their property at night time, however have since begun leaving them on once more. 

“These organizations have been right here earlier than we moved in 40 years in the past and we have been blissful to have them as neighbors,” she mentioned. “We’ve additionally tried to be good neighbors to them, however the 24-7 gentle lighting has elevated over time to an unnatural and unhealthy degree.”

Bell mentioned that the extreme lighting can be having an impression on the agricultural enchantment of the neighborhood. 

“These elements are definitely affecting the wildlife in our neighborhood particularly the birds,” Bell mentioned. “We additionally take pleasure in seeing the celebrities at night time however and it has develop into troublesome to make them out. We’ve got extra nighttime gentle than somebody dwelling subsequent to a comfort retailer with out the comfort.”

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

“We have been hoping that this might be a prelude to a digicam surveillance legislation in our city,” Obijiski mentioned. “You possibly can have digicam surveillance occurring within the daytime that has nothing to do with outside lighting which occurs at within the night time time…or you possibly can have surveillance cameras that take footage with out the necessity of sunshine 24 hours a day. There’s a whole lot of sophistication that goes on with a digicam.”

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

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

At a City Board assembly held on Thursday, March 16, Obijiski spoke on behalf of an unnamed neighbor who was involved about being surveilled by her next-door neighbor, together with using a motion-activated digicam 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 personal 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 personal proper of motion for damages towards any one who installs or affixes a video imaging system on property adjoining such residential actual property for the aim of videotaping or taking transferring digital photos 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.”

City officers are nonetheless trying into whether or not they can create a camera-focused municipal legislation in Ulster. 

The submit Ulster City Board critiques legislation creating requirements for outside lighting first appeared on Hudson Valley One.