Residents ask, “Why does St. Al’s need so much light?”

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By John Foster

 When Greg Wilson moved into his new home next to St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Pewee Valley in August, he had no complaints. But now, the new lights above the church and school do more than light up the campus all night long. They are bright enough to cast shadows within his house, he said.

“Why does the church think so many lights are necessary,” he asked, “and why do they need to be so bright.” The author of Pewee Valley’s lighting ordinance, Beach Craigmyle, said the lights at the church and school look like an airport. “I think they’re too high, too bright and too many,” he said. When it comes to the letter of the law, St. Al’s is doing very little — if anything — wrong. The city and church came to an agreement about a parking and playground expansion about two weeks before the city’s lighting ordinance came into effect. That agreement stipulated downward facing lighting, but little else. City engineer Mel Milburn has investigated Wilson’s and other neighbor’s complaints. He said two of the lights on the property line cast light about 30 feet into the neighbors’ yards. And it’s undeniable the other lights create glare visible from all the neighbors, he said, but they predate the  ordinance. The lighting ordinance has a grandfathering provision that states that within 10 years, lights like the church’s need to be changed so they don’t cast light into other yards. There are also several lights that would need to be lowered at that time to meet compliance. Although they aren’t breaking the ordinance yet, St. Al’s facility director Gary Hubbuch said the church is willing to work with their neighbors to resolve the issue. “We want to be a good neighbor,” he said. He offered to move the two lights on the property line and lower other lights. Others weren’t so conciliatory. Resident and parishioner George Farmer doesn’t like that his offering money will go toward moving the lights and his tax money will go toward Milburn’s fees, all because of complaining neighbors. “I’m paying double,” he said. Milburn agreed to meet with the church, neighbors and a lighting expert to draft an agreement. “I’m sure as grown adults, we can work this out,” Mayor Bob Rogers said.   E-mail us about this story at: jfoster@oldhamera.com