Civic Groups, Neighbors: Gas Station Lighting Does Not Conform to Code

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Light pollution from the Harbor Heights Service Station onto the Eastville Avenue property owned by Michael Butler, photographed on October 17, 2016. Michael Heller photo
Light pollution from the Harbor Heights Service Station onto the Eastville Avenue property owned by Michael Butler, photographed on October 17, 2016. Michael Heller photo

By Kathryn G. Menu

A bright white halo of light surrounds Michael Butler’s Eastville Avenue home from dusk until dawn — but its effect is far from heavenly, says the longtime Sag Harbor resident.

On Tuesday, Mr. Butler, along with members of the non-profit Save Sag Harbor, approached the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees, with complaints about lighting at the Gulf gas station and Harbor Heights Service Station on Hampton Street. According to Jayne Young, a board member with the non-profit, the lighting may not just be a glaring affront to neighbors, but goes against the village’s own codes.

“There have been many complaints about the severe impact and trespassing of light emanating from the reconstructed Harbor Heights Service Station on Hampton Street, Route 114,” Ms. Young said as she read in a prepared statement to the board on Tuesday. “These issues are especially egregious since the service station is within a densely populated, residential neighborhood, is at the gateway of our Village Historic District, and is directly across from Eastville Historical Society. Harbor Heights also abuts historic St. David’s A.M.E. Zion Church with its important cemetery established in 1840.”

Ms. Young said rather than start a petition about lighting concerns, Save Sag Harbor hired lighting and controls consultant James Korman to study the lighting and the village code.

“Mr. Korman measured the existing nighttime lighting conditions at Harbor Heights and we compared his results to our village code and to the approved plans on file for Harbor Heights,” said Ms. Young, adding later that “based on these findings there are multiple failures to conform to codes and approved plans resulting in changes that need to be made to Harbor Heights’ lighting to restore harmony to the neighborhood and to bring the station into compliance with Sag Harbor lighting code.”

Nighttime lighting at the Harbor Heights Service Station on Hampton Street, photographed on October 17, 2016. Michael Heller photo

According to a report by Mr. Korman, he believes the main “Gulf” acts as a direct light source and should be illuminated by a shielded light source, per the village code — noting correct lighting for the main sign is already in place, but has been abandoned. Light levels in five places, he says, exceed village code standards, and there are several window signs, including one advertising an “ATM,” that are LED but operate with the same high contrast as a traditional neon sign, which is not allowed under the village code. Lighting also calls for a warm white, 3,000 Kelvin, where Mr. Korman says the station has a “very cool white” lighting at 5,000 Kelvin. Five locations where lighting exists are not in approved plans, he says, while two locations that are approved remain unlit.

Ms. Young also suggested the village look at Dark Skies lighting codes, similar to East Hampton and Southampton towns, to prevent “excessive night lighting” in the future.

Mr. Butler, a direct neighbor to the station, said he was assured it would not operate 24-hours — which it does — and that as a result his quality of life has been compromised.

“I no longer know what it is to enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep,” he said.

After the meeting, building inspector Thomas Preiato said he had yet to review the study, but would do so and address the situation if he determined, in fact, the code was being violated.

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