Village Hears Lights Controversy

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Village of Flower Hill Board of Trustees, Village Attorney and Village Administrator with Bob Young at the podium.

The Jan. 3 Village of Flower Hill Board of Trustee meeting was well attended. The public hearing discussed new local laws, but the main topic of discussion was the Young family’s light show on Sunnyvale Road.

“I want to begin by saying that the Village of Flower Hill in no way, shape or form has ever discussed banning holiday lights,” said Mayor Robert McNamara as he opened the public comment on the Young’s Christmas show. “For some reason, a rumor has started to that effect and I’m here to flat-out deny it. We have only asked that the flashing LED lights at certain locations and on the wall only a few feet from the residents’ side be turned off. You have also heard a rumor that the village is trying to shut down charitable donations at certain locations in the village. This is totally untrue.”

Village Administrator Ronnie Shatzkamer explained that the maximum time given to residents to speak during public comment was three minutes, but that the village wanted to give the Youngs a combined eight minutes to speak and then respond to the presentation made by the board. The Young’s daughter Noelle was the first to speak to express her feelings on a comment made by a neighbor on the Flower Hill Facebook page.

Village of Flower Hill Board of Trustees Randall Rosenbaum, Brian Herrington, Mayor Robert McNamara, Village Attorney Jeffery Blinkoff and Trustee Frank Genese

“There was a comment left by a fellow neighbor of mine saying that the cause of my sister’s death was due to substance abuse which is untrue,” said Noelle. “It is really upsetting and it’s so not true.”

“After some communication I’ve had with Jeffrey [Blinkoff, village attorney] in the past week, I wasn’t aware this was an official agenda item, so we haven’t prepared a detailed response to your letter,” said Bob Young. “I think we would like to take a cooling off period to reflect on everything that has happened in the past week. I think we need a month to reflect on it.”

McNamara denied the Youngs a month to reflect on the letter, claiming they knew it would be a topic of discussion at the meeting as per an email that was later passed out. The email dated Dec. 29 from Blinkoff stated, “because the village’s letter to you was from the full board of trustees, it is essential that the full board of trustees respond to any concerns you have. The board of trustees is meeting next Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in the Village Hall. You are urged to attend to present whatever concerns you have to the board of trustees at the time.”

Marie Young was next to speak, stating that she had been informed at a previous meeting that “the collection box could stay where it is because it’s been there for five seasons.” McNamara responded, stating, “we’re not asking you to take the box away. We are asking you to take it out of our right of way.”

Village of Flower Hill Board of Trustees, Village Attorney and Village Administrator

The Young family left as the board began their presentation on the situation, during which copies of email and text message exchanges were passed out and voicemail messages left by Bob Young to Deputy Mayor Brian Herrington were played. The trustees explained that the complaints brought to them over the years have ranged from excessive noise, traffic, property invasion, light pollution, harassment from visitors, concerns about emergency vehicles getting to homes on the street and other safety related issues.

In 2016, the village created a Traffic Management Plan Agreement with the Young family that was agreed to be followed for the 2016-17 years. The plan detailed that one lane of traffic on Sunnyvale Road would be dedicated to a through lane and the other was for drivers to stop to observe the lights for a short period of time as traffic permitted. The traffic pattern on Sunnyvale required a minimum of two people, one at each end of the block from about 5 to 10 p.m. Five village employees ensured coverage throughout the holidays along with trustees, who responded on a few occasions to complaints from Bob Young.

Also at the meeting, the board unanimously passed Local Law Y in 2017, which states “once an approval of a site plan review or a special exception use has been granted by the board of trustees after a public hearing, construction must begin within six months of the date of approval or the approval shall be revoked.”

The next board of trustees meeting will be on Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Flower Hill Village Hall located at 1 Bonnie Heights Rd.

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