Neighbors petition authority to turn down the lights

Neighbors of the Oak Terrace public housing complex submitted a petition to the Naugatuck Housing Authority to replace the exterior lamps at the complex because they contend they are too bright and light up the neighborhood. RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — Neighbors of the Oak Terrace public housing complex have petitioned the Naugatuck Housing Authority to replace the exterior lamps on site amid complaints that they light up the yards of the surrounding houses.

“That thing looks like Yankee Stadium,” said Michael Rosa, who lives at 67 Birch Lane, across the street from the housing complex. “People around here should not have to buy room-darkening shades so they can sleep at night.”

Emidio Cerasale, who recently formed the Westside Neighborhood Association, submitted the petition with 54 signatures to the housing authority’s commission at a meeting in mid-December.

Cerasale said he slowly grew more annoyed by the bright lights after moving into his home at 110 Birch Lane more than two years ago.

“If you have company in your back yard, it lights up like a fortress and it looks like a prison,” Cerasale said.

The exterior light fixtures at the 53 Conrad St. complex send light in all directions.

The petitioners want them changed to full cutoff lamps, which direct light only at a downward angle. Some facilities in other towns, such as the Middlebury Public Library, use full cutoff lights.

Kevin Knowles, the housing authority’s executive director, said after Cerasale filed the petition, workers dimmed the lights nearest to his back yard and put in screens to block the light from penetrating in that direction. Nothing else has been done to remedy the situation, but the housing authority is considering other areas of the complex where the same measures can be taken, Knowles said.

“We try to be good neighbors, but we also have to consider the safety of our residents,” Knowles said.

Cerasale said the modifications did not change anything and he is still pushing for lamps that would provide the same brightness, just angled away from the surrounding neighborhood.

“We’re still getting the same kind of glare,” Cerasale said.

Neighborhood residents have complained verbally about the lighting to Knowles over the years, but nothing was ever done, Rosa said.

“This has been the first time there’s been a concerted, unified effort to do something,” Rosa said.

The petition also alleges the glare violates a borough zoning regulation, which Zoning Enforcement Officer Steven Macary said was not the case. The regulation prohibits glare across property lines from fires, welding or floodlights, which are lights affixed to homes and not standing on poles.

Full cutoff lights would be more energy efficient than the ones the housing complex uses, Cerasale said.

“It just glows up, so that’s a waste,” Cerasale said. “You don’t want lighting to go up into the sky.”

The state-funded complex contains 194 apartments in 37 buildings for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.