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What are my rights?

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#1 Bart

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 03:07 PM

Hi Folks,

A while back I moved into a new subdivision, it was partly chosen because it had dark skies. Recently the property next to me was sold and a new owner moved it. In short order the new neighbor started adding outdoor lights to their property. Now my property is bathed in their light. What are my rights? Can I demand that they aim the lights to only shine on their property? Or am I simply out of luck?

Thanks
Disgruntled.

#2 mak17

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 03:28 PM

Have you tried talking to your neighbor?

#3 Bart

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 03:40 PM

Not yet. Trying to get all my ducks in a row. So far I have cookies for bribery. I've also thought of a deal where I could snow-blow his driveway this winter for his compliance in aiming the lights out of my property And lastly, would like to know if I have any legal rights in the matter.

#4 richard7

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 03:43 PM

Have you tried talking to your neighbor?


Bingo!
First order of business is to make peace with your neighbor.
That has been gone over a lot in these threads. It could be that he doesn't know what's going on.

#5 Bart

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 03:44 PM

You're both right of course. I just want to be prepared for the first meeting.

#6 magic612

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 03:48 PM

Bart, check out my thread on "Small victory" where I discuss having both successes and failures in this regard. Might give you some ideas, as well as motivation.

#7 Bart

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 03:50 PM

Thanks for the link. I'll go there now.

#8 barbarosa

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 04:19 PM

What are my rights? Can I demand that they aim the lights to only shine on their property? Or am I simply out of luck?


A good neighbor approach is always best, but it never hurts to know your legal rights. These vary by location so the starting point is to lookup (often online) any state or local ordinance or public policy declaration that could apply. If there is an ordinance then you have to find out the enforcement mechanism. The ordinance may specify the enforcement procedure; even so you should ask the town officials what they actually do.

Establishing a relationship with the local government staff might be one of the most important steps you can take. You might discover for example that they do not enforce the ordinance or have an interpretation that you need to understand. If your town enforces the ordinance then that is your path if friendly persuasion fails.

If the ordinance is not enforced, you might discover that you cannot compel enforcement. That opens two options, one is to work to change the policy (slow and uncertain) and the other is to seek civil relief in court (expensive and uncertain). Small claims court is an option, if you do have a good case.

If there is no ordinance, you can raise the legal argument that the lights infringe on your right to the peaceful enjoyment of your property. This is a valid legal point, but you must still make a case. In some areas, the courts prefer that this sort of dispute go to arbitration. Some municipalities encourage it also. Arbitrators favor compromise, or although they must deny it, the party paying the bill.

So back to the first point, try to find an informal resolution and offer some sort of compromise, before going formal. If it looks as if this might escalate, document the process. If you have meetings, make good notes and send an email that summarizes the meeting. Keep the tone calm and neighborly. Passion and time distort memory. Be honest about it, but also remember that he who writes the notes is writing the history.

#9 magic612

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 04:55 PM

This is a good resource also: http://www.darksky.o...al-lighting.pdf

#10 Bart

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 05:00 PM

Magic, that is perfect. I just printed it out! Thanks.

#11 magic612

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 05:07 PM

Glad to help. If you need anything else, don't hesitate to ask. I've worked on a fair amount of this already. I don't know everything, but I can either help directly, or point you to someone who can.

#12 T1R2

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:38 PM

yes get to know your neighbor, be very nice and get to know them, invite over for a gameday get-together( if your a fan or not) then in a couple weeks invite him over to look through the scope, with his lights on, he'll probably notice himself how hard it is to really be able to enjoy the hobby, and ask "hey, you think you could darkin those lights so we can see better." it works 99% of the time , then when he sees you out with your scope, wave and speak and he'll probably turn them off when he goes back in without even thinking about it, if he forgets , well since your already friends it wont offend him if you ask, and always offer for them to come have a look. Its called "kill'em with kindness" so to speak.
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#13 Achernar

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:40 PM

If all else fails, light screens are in order.......see the ones I made in another thread here. They can be set up and taken down in minutes, and when they are not in use there is very little evidence of them from the street. If after trying diplomacy and going to the city does not get you anywhere, then you will have to use light screens. If they raise a stink, all you have to do is point out that you tried to resolve this reasonably and their lights are interfering with your peaceful use of your own property.

Taras

#14 Bart

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 07:43 PM

And Now, The Rest Of The Story........

It's been awhile since my last post to this thread. And I can add that my issue has been mostly resolved. Finally had a situation where I was able to broach the light pollution subject with my next door neighbor. It happened during a conversation with him that ensued after I cleared his driveway of snow with my new snow blower. He was so grateful that he asked that one question I was hoping for: Thanks for the snow blowing, is there anything I can do for you? Well......... Yes as a matter of fact...... He was very cool about it and he even admitted that his lights were too bright. Now things are much better. He didn't turn off all the lights, but he replaced all the high wattage bulbs with one that had more appropriate wattage. So, it's not perfect, but it's a whole lot better than it was and I can live with it.

So, it just goes to show that given a little time and the right situation anything can be worked out. And it helps to have a snow blower! ;)

#15 Scott in NC

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 07:59 PM

Glad to hear that your story had a good outcome, Bart! :waytogo:

#16 joaoba

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 04:26 PM

Nice work Bart!

I have one neighbor with a nuisance porch light, but she turns it off whenever I ask. Sometimes she comes out to smoke late at night, and if she notices me in the yard she'll keep it off. Real nice lady. The power company, on the other hand, has ignored every request I've made to have the street lights screened or shaded. In my experience, dealing with individuals is often easier than dealing with corporations.

#17 planet earth

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 05:10 AM

So far I have cookies for bribery. I've also thought of a deal where I could snow-blow his driveway this winter

Snowblow my driveway and present me with cookies and I'd shut my hydro off! :grin:

#18 Footbag

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 11:32 AM

My neighbors at my dark site have tons of landscape lighting. Bright stadium style lighting that would completely mess up my imaging.

At some point, I mentioned light pollution. I invite them over to look all the time and we chat about astronomy.

Now, every time I setup my telescope, they turn them off without me asking. They even offered to let me stay at a cabin they own withing a few minutes of Cherry Springs.

I would be nice, offer them a good view, and then bring up LP. Even without mentioning their lights.






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