Lighting Code Is Criticized, and Defended

    At a meeting Monday night of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, Richard Kahn, a retired attorney, thoroughly criticized revisions of East Hampton Town’s lighting law proposed by Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, even though Councilwoman Julia Prince, the town board’s liaison to the committee, said the committee could no longer be considered operational be          
   Nevertheless, harsh words were heard from some members about Ms. Quigley’s efforts to amend the lighting law. Some said Ms. Quigley, an attorney, favored the business community and wondered aloud if her efforts could be considered a conflict of interest if her law firm represented business owners.
    Mr. Kahn warned that existing commercial lighting would be grandfathered in perpetuity under the proposal, even lighting that was installed during the 14-month extension of the deadline on which compliance with the 2006 law was supposed to be mandatory. He said there would be no mechanism for determining what lighting was pre-existing and what was new.
    On residential properties, he noted that restrictions would apply only to exterior lighting installed after the effective date of the new law. This would, he said, permit homeowners to install whatever they wanted, since there would be no way to prove in court that new lights had been installed before the law went into effect. He also noted that restrictions would be eliminated on upwardly directed light from unshielded floodlights.
    Ms. Quigley, he said, “has indeed tweaked the law; what she’s done is repealed the law.”  He added that the new law would be less restrictive than those in Southampton, Riverhead, Brookhaven, and Islip.
    He offered a recommendation for the committee to vote on, but there were too few members in attendance to do so. The recommendation included another extension of the date when nonresidential exterior lighting would be required to be in compliance and a request that the town reconvene its energy and light committee to address concerns raised by the business community.
    In an e-mail received the next day, Ms. Quigley said she represents all interests in the town, not just a select few. “Any commentary about my client base is speculative and frankly inaccurate,” she wrote.
    She noted that the proposed revision had been taken from a model ordinance put out by the Illuminating Engineering Society and the International Dark Sky Association in June 2010. 
    “The overall change is to install zone lighting. Such a concept makes sense. Not all areas of property require the same lighting. Indeed, the properties closest to our natural resources must respect a much higher standard of ensuring limited lighting than the busy and highly trafficked downtowns.
    The changes not only make sense, but are necessary as our current law is deficient and creates hazardous situations, such as the walk across Main Street in downtown Montauk at night,” she wrote.
    Asked to comment, Susan Harder of the Dark Sky Society sent an e-mail that said, “Ms. Quigley’s proposal is worse than no law because it’s poorly conceived and drafted as well as rife with technical errors.”
    At her last meeting as the town board liaison, Ms. Prince, whose term is expiring, suggested advisory committee members attend town board work sessions to make their voices heard. Ms. Prince received a round of applause and was told she’d be missed.