OC Seeks To Reduce Building Lighting

OCEAN

CITY – The ongoing issue regarding the Rivendell lighting issue returned to the Mayor and City Council again this week.

Bay Princess resident Andy Anders presented the Mayor and City Council with the history between the neighboring Bay Princess and Rivendell buildings. There have been issues concerning the height, setback, shadows and lighting of the Rivendell building over the years.

The lighting issue consists of matters regarding the lighting in the building’s parking garage and the their balconies. The council attacked the garage lighting first. Planning and Zoning Administrator

Blaine Smith was in attendance to explain to the council the progress of the never-ending issue.

According to Smith, in September he had sent Rob Buccini, Rivendell developer and owner, a notice stating the garage lights have to be minimized to a one-foot candle within 30 days. Weeks had passed so Smith went ahead and contacted the management company of the building who complied and said they would provide some type of shielding for the lights or lower wattage, but it did not have authorization from Buccini to do so. A couple of weeks ago, the management company had reached the point where it had the homeowners association willing to take the project over. Most recently, Buccini said he would authorize and participate in the project of reducing the lighting by providing shields, or lower wattage, to reach the minimum of a one-foot candle.

“And that’s been our goal because it meets the terms of the life safety code,” Smith said.

Council President Jim Hall expressed the council’s impatience with this ongoing battle.

“You started in August … it’s November,” Hall said. “Who’s got the hammer to make someone do something.”

Smith explained that issuing a citation would be the hammer. He also said that that might not be the way to go because if the town moves the issue to litigation, he has no set standard on the code. It would be better to try and reach a compromise with the developer.

In presenting a picture of the Rivendell building lit up at night, Anders explained that when the measurements of lights were taken in the garage, the measurement underneath the lowest point of light between light fixtures was a 9.8-foot candle.

Councilman Joe Hall asked if there was a maximum standard set in the code. Smith said no and explained the life safety code sets a standard of a one-foot minimum.

To put the garage matter to rest, Jim Hall asked Smith what is the date that Buccini agreed to install the shields. Smith said there is a contractual arrangement, and the shields also have to be fabricated so the timeline is unknown.

Councilman Doug Cymek motioned to give Rivendell 60 days to make corrections to the garage lighting, set at a standard of a one-foot candle minimum. If the corrections are not made, citations will be issued. The motion was second by fellow council member Mary Knight and passed in a unanimous vote.

“If the first attempt works, then we’re done. If it doesn’t work, then we’ll have to go back to the drawing board.” Smith said.

Next, the council approached the balcony lighting, which was the main concern of Anders because those lights are in view of the residence of the Bay Princess.

“There are 100 lights, with 100 watts, that makes 1,000 watts looking at us,” Anders said.

In a letter to the council, Anders explained that Rivendell’s 100 balcony lights project one-foot candle on their floor and .8 on the Bay Princess balconies. The measurement of .8 was taken with all lights on the Bay Princess off; therefore, the measurement was accrued from the Rivendell lights reflecting on the Bay Princess.

Anders pointed out that the builders of Rivendell faced a burden by having to comply with two codes, the life safety code and a town code. The town code states, “All focal lighting, including exterior lights, and parking lot lighting necessary for the safety and protection of property, shall be controlled and focused within the site’s property lines to minimize glare on adjoining properties.”

“My question is, if the lights cannot be focused and controlled, they have to be shown as non compliant to the code,” Anders said. “I really believe they have to be cited. Negligence by planning and zoning should not exempt this building.”

Cymek asserted that at the last meeting concerning this issue Fire Marshal Sam Villani has said the lighting on the balconies of the Rivendell have to be measured at one-foot candle, as they are now. He also said placing shields on those lights would not work because it would create dark spots in between. Cymek also stated that if the Rivendell lighting meets the life safety code then how could the council have the building make any changes.

Acting City Solicitor Heather Stansbury said if there is some discrepancy between which of the two codes to follow, the life safety code out bids the town code.

Cymek asked Smith if he finds the reflection of the Rivendell balcony lighting to be unacceptable. Smith said in terms of looking at the lighting, yes, but by the measurement of the meter, no.

Cymek felt that the balcony issue should be put on hold until the garage lighting was corrected, to see if that will make some kind of impact on the Bay Princess’s visual of the Rivendell lighting. He made a motion to have all interested parties in the matter come forward at the next available work session “and try to hammer this all out.” That passed unanimously.

In addressing the picture that Anders presented to the council, Jim Hall said, “To me this looks like a cruise ship has pulled up on

81st Street…it’s a shame that it has gotten this way.”

Joe Hall motioned for the matter to be recommended to the Planning and Zoning Commission. His motion was second by Councilwoman Margaret Pillas and passed in a unanimous vote.

“I would hope that we adopt this all over town,” Jim Hall said. “It sure ruins a neighborhood when they start squabbling over things like this.”

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