LCUB Sued Over Lights

Rochelle brings suit to light

A Grigsby Chapel Road resident is suing the town of Farragut and Lenoir City Utilities Board over streetlights installed on the residential street June 2008 .

“They are the same lights installed on Campbell Station [Road] and they are high-intensity lights that cover quite a wide area,” Ron Rochelle, the plaintiff and member of the Town’s Visual Resources Review Board, said.

“And on Grigsby Chapel, they are achieving their goal: they are spreading the light over a wide area, which includes my yard and anybody’s yard who is looking at those lights,” he added.

“I’m 42 yards from the light but it’s facing right at me. These lights are not tilted on the road; they’re tilted at about a 35 to 45-degree angle,” Rochelle said, the result being the light shines more into his yard than on the street.

According to Rochelle, the lights are a nuisance and encroachment. He has sued LCUB and the Town for not acting to address his complaint in a timely manner.

Town Engineer Darryl Smith said he has been working to correct the problem since Rochelle’s original complaint to Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen in June.

The first thing Smith did was to ask LCUB “to angle the light down a little bit to try to take the light out of his backyard,” Smith said. LCUB does such work for the Town free-of-charge, so it performs these activities as the company can work them in.

LCUB eventually angled the light down, but the lights could be angled only a few degrees.

“It didn’t help that much,” Smith said.

Other options for fixing the lighting were limited, Smith added, because some options, such as moving the offending streetlight to a neighboring pole, would provide uneven lighting for drivers.

“We try to have a consistent amount of light on the street. You don’t want to set up street lights so you’re going from a really bright area to a dark area to a bright area, because your eyes don’t adjust fast enough,” Smith said.

But according to Rochelle, he sued LCUB first because he was told the utility company was dragging its feet about moving the streetlight.

“So I sued L-C-U-B originally, not the Town, in small claims court ... they called me as soon as they got the lawsuit, and told me they would move it that afternoon if the Town would let [them],” Rochelle said.

LCUB then “disappeared into the vapor,” Rochelle said, “presumably because the Town was not in agreement with them.”

After that, Rochelle added the Town to the suit for $25,000.

“I’m not looking for any monetary compensation, I just want to rectify this lighting situation,” Rochelle said.

However, Smith has contacted the light manufacturer to order lights that were fully adjustable. The Town installed that light Friday, Feb. 20, three days before the Town received its summons to court.

“I’ve noticed no change, absolutely no change,” Rochelle said.

Town Attorney Tom Hale has turned the case over to Tennessee Municipal League, with whom the Town has insurance.