Wilton Manors resident Matthew Dreger just wants to sleep at night but the glare from several unpermitted lights at the LGBT community center next door is lighting up his neighborhood “brighter than a Walmart.”
The president of the Townhomes of Riverside Park wants the Pride Center at Equality Park to hit the “off” switch. But so far, the lights are still on. The Pride Center is located at 2040 N. Dixie Highway and The Townhomes of Riverside Park are directly south.
“Some of our residents have to draw their blinds because of the light pollution coming onto our property,” Dregersaid. “There needs to be some hoods or light direction adjustment. The one on the back of their property is so bright that you have to squint when you drive down our driveway to the back of the property and the one in the front by the driveway is shining towards our property.”
Dreger said the unpermitted lights went up on Oct. 18 and 19 and shine in residents’ windows so brightly they are keeping people up at night. He wants the city to take action immediately.
Wilton Manors code compliance supervisor Julio Davila said the Pride Center failed to apply for a required electrical permit for the lights prior to installation and has been cited for lack of a permit and light spillage. A Dec. 5 hearing before a Special Magistrate is scheduled if the center does not comply, he said.
Pride Center CEO Robert Boo said the Pride Center submitted a permit application last week.
In an email, Boo said the lights were installed in 2017 to replace “non-working light fixtures.”
“We want to ensure that the entire campus is safe for the 60 groups and organizations who use our meeting space, the 8 organizations (two of which are religious organizations) whose offices are our campus, and the 1,000 - 2,000 people who step foot everyday on Equality Park,” Boo wrote.
Dreger is frustrated by what he said is the Pride Center’s chronic lack of consideration for its neighbors.
“We met with them on Thursday [Nov. 15] and they were talking [to] us about being neighborly, what I said to [Boo] was that he was doing things that adversely affect us and they portray us as being the villain,” Dreger said. “If they were going to be neighborly he could turn off the lights until they got them fixed. He didn’t turn off anybody’s lights.”
The Pride Center should know what is acceptable to install because they had to submit a photometric plan to the city’s Planning and Zoning Board last May, he said.
Planning and Zoning Board member Don d’Arminio confirmed that lighting was part of the site plan the Pride Center submitted earlier this year for the 48-unit LGBT-friendly affordable housing project it plans to build on the property.
“That is standard,” d’Arminio said.
City Commissioner Paul Rolli said the Pride Center should have been aware of the requirements.
“They have been to the city a number of times trying to get things done for this housing. You would think that by this time they would know to check with the city before they do anything. I think they should be held to the same standard as anyone else in terms of permitting and the process,” Rolli said.
Dreger said none of the lights have shields on them to mitigate the glare and several need to be readjusted so they shine in another direction.
“I am frustrated, terribly frustrated. We had a nice quiet life over here until they started doing all these things without any regard to the neighborhood,” Dreger said.