Under the lights
For athletes, to perform on summer evenings underneath the stadium lights is looked upon as an honor of sporting achievement.
But for residents who are only looking for a good night’s sleep, the idea of brightness illuminating the night sky paints a much less favorable picture.
Several Clarence residents noted as much to the Town Board at its May 9 meeting as the board approved a request for a temporary conditional permit for outside dining at Rule 26 — the restaurant located inside The Dome golf complex at 8230 Wehrle Drive.
The Wehrle Golf Dome was re-branded “The Dome” prior to its reopening in March 2017. The new two-level, 3,500-square-foot complex features a golf store, seating areas, a golf range and two restaurants — Rule 26 and Local Grille. The Dome is next door to two luxury apartment complexes. The “Coventry” and “Fireside” apartments both feature one to-three-bedroom units.
David Huck of Regent Development and Construction told the Town Board that The Dome is seeking to add a patio bar to Rule 26. A canopy will cover six of the tables, he said.
“We’re looking to do some things to create a nice atmosphere as an adjunct to the restaurant, and yet keeps things quiet for the neighbors,” added Huck.
Residents of Foxwood Lane, however, view The Dome’s lighting presence inauspiciously, telling the board that while The Dome itself closes at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the lights remain on well afterward.
“I support small business, and I hope they’re very successful,” said Michael Songin. “I have some concerns about the existing conditions; specifically, the lighting is absolutely not in conformity with the town.”
Songin showed board members photos of his property at night, fully illuminated by The Dome’s lighting system.
“My backyard at night, it’s like daylight at 11 o’clock, 12 o’clock at night,” he said. “It’s actually so bright that when I’m in my backyard standing next to my pool, I can’t even see my dog because of the lights coming right at you.”
Raji Bansal has lived on Foxwood Lane for the past 10 years. His brother Ravinder, a retired businessman, rose to local prominence when he completed a solo flight around the world in a single-engine plane to raise money for a hospital in his hometown of Ambala, India.
“The light is blinding. It had been a very peaceful neighborhood,” said Bansal. “We had a very clear rear view at the back of our yard. Now that view is gone because of the development that has taken place. I’m concerned that there should not be glaring light and there should not be very loud music.”
“The lighting from the parking lot — it’s so bright, I don’t even need a night light for my bathroom,” added Foxwood resident Robert Malloy. “I have to keep my blinds closed at night. Something has to be done to bring down the lighting so that they can light their parking lot, but they can’t be lighting up the entire neighborhood.”
Jim Callahan, the director of community development for the Town of Clarence, noted that when The Dome was presented as a project to the Town Board, lighting was not among the topics of discussion because the system had already existed on the property and was not being altered.
Huck told the board that he had not previously heard of any issues from residents. He added that he would work with the town’s building department to mitigate the issue before the board approved the permit on the grounds that the lights would be brought under compliance with the town code.
Songin’s sentiments appeared to echo that of his two neighbors in that he wants The Dome to do well commercially as long as that doesn’t mean a drop in his quality of life.
“It’s a quiet neighborhood,” he said. “We enjoy it exactly the way that it is, and we just hope that they’re going to be a good neighbor.”