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No longer country living

10 months ago

We live in the country where there are no laws protecting homeowners from light tresspass. Our neighbors installed a Duke power pole in their backyard and it shines into our bedroom and illuminates nearly our entire yard from dusk till dawn.

We have asked them to have a light shield installed and we have planted some red maples that will eventually shield the light (7-10 years). However, they have yet to remedy the issue and when we followed up we’re told it took two months to get the light installed and it’ll take that to fix it. It’s been nearly three months since we had the conversation.

What suggestions does anyone have in the meantime to eliminate the light? We have blinds and the light still comes through, we cannot install curtains due to allergy issues.

Comments (46)

  • 10 months ago

    I am so sorry to hear that you are dealing with light nuisance from your neighbors. The all-night lighting isn't just bad for you, but scientists have discovered that night lighting is terrible for wildlife and is disrupting seasonal bird migrations and thus threatening their populations.

    We live in a small urban area with a lot of landscape lighting in the neighborhood. In our house we installed plantation style interior shutters in the bedrooms to block the light. My husband has a lot of allergies and curtains are problematic. We got the shutters from a manufacturer called the Louver Shop (louvershop.com). They are sold through consultants rather than retail shops. We have had ours for over a decade and are so pleased with them. We also have large ones on french doors. We got large louvers 3.25", because I didn't want them to look "busy". They are great at blocking light, can be adjusted to let in fresh air and still do a good job of cutting down light, and are also easy to dust and keep clean because the louvers are large. It may not be an idea which would go with your decor, but I thought I'd mention them. Also, they are an American product made in Georgia.

    (I have no relationship with this company in any way.)

  • 10 months ago

    @ac m Thank you for the link and suggestion. We installed bamboo blinds inside and the light still makes its way through even though the are perfectly fitted. I’ll give the ones you suggested a look though. Maybe they will block out more.

  • 10 months ago

    @vinmarks I’m going to give it another two months and if it doesn’t change, I’m going to consider it. 😂. I generally try the neighborly approach first but that doesn’t seem to help sometimes.

    They have complained about our dogs who have wireless perimeter collars and our chickens and we made adjustments that day or the next. It would seem a light could be resolved in a timely manner.

  • 10 months ago

    What is the neighbor trying to illuminate? I just see trees, what appears to be a dirt path, and grass. Why does it operate all night? Is "Duke" the power company? If not, what's the word's significance? Why is the pole so tall? One would expect to see a tall pole like that (but not that type of fixture) next to a highway.

  • 10 months ago

    Duke is the power company and they generally place poles on personal property when they aren’t located in subdivisions with lighting and the homeowner pays a rental fee each month to have augmented outdoor light. The problem is they let you place them wherever you want, including a backyard next to a wood line. For reference we are not a subdivision and are five houses on 15 total acres, but all the houses are next to a major thoroughfare and only about 50’ apart.

    We have no idea what they could possibly being trying to illuminate.

  • 10 months ago

    @Elizabeth White, What lousy neighbors. Maybe some summer lightning will hit close enough that it shorts out the light! I also had bamboo blinds before I got the plantation shutters, they didn’t work well enough for me either, so I hot glued dark brown felt to the backs— it helped somewhat. Maybe you could try backing yours with some blackout cloth or something similar before you invest in new window coverings.

  • 9 months ago

    I almost went with bamboo blinds but passed on them because of the light bleed. I ended up going with fabric roller shades which provide a nice clean look. They have ones that are black out.

    I'm also not seen the trees that you planted. I'm not sure if maple was the best choice. It's not going to help you in the winter. You might try to go with a tall and columnar evergreen like arborvitae, or a giant thuja. Look for species that are fast growing that you can plant as an almost hedge.

  • 9 months ago

    Sometimes it is necessary to have regulations - because this is what happens when someone does what is ‘good for them’ and fails to think of the greater ramifications - neighbours, wild life, light pollution. It defies logic - choosing to live in a semi rural area for the “serenity” but wanting to illuminate like living in suburbia! Choose one or the other. I’m sorry that you have to remedy for their stupidity.
    Might be time to lobby the municipality on the issue of light pollution and its impacts on the environment.

  • 9 months ago

    The longer bleed is actually at the bare edges of the blinds and it bounces off the white trim of the windows into the room. It’s really hard to see in pictures but at night it’s still enough light to walk through the room.

    We may attempt to go to the county and see about policy or ordinance being put in place, but it’s highly unlikely. We don’t even have county leash laws for animals as we live in rural NC.

  • 9 months ago

    Outdoor lighting is changing to reduce light pollution. Your neighbor should follow the five principles of responsible outdoor lighting in selecting outdoor lighting fixture(s). I looked at Duke Energy's Design-a-light website. Your neighbor could have chosen the Enterprise LED fixture which would certainly have been much better than the Mitchell LED that he seems to have chosen. According to Duke's Smart Lighting Solutions webpage, the company will provide design services. But to do anything about replacing that light, you first have to determine what the neighbor needs (or thinks he needs) to be illuminated and when and go from there. I just can't imagine why he wanted a streetlight near those trees or why he would want to illuminate the grass 24/7.

  • 9 months ago

    We live on a small farm, with another farm and house down the hill. They installed a sodium light, one of those horrid orange lights. It made sitting on our patio at night unpleasant. I went down and asked them what they were so afraid of, and offered to keep an eye out for intruders and call the police. I mentioned that living in fear must be very difficult for them, and they had my sympathy. Within two days the light went off, never to be turned on again! Sometimes embarrassing people works!

  • 9 months ago

    Without a local ordinance against it, it's unlikely your local government will do anything about it. It would be your local township (or whatever you live in), not the county. County would just bounce you back to the township, your issue is too small for them to handle unless you can get a large amount of residents of the whole county to sign on in petition. You can present your compaint to the township, but they won't necessarily put an ordiance in place if only a couple people are complaining about the light.

  • 9 months ago

    We don't live in a township. We live in the country and it falls under county jurisidiction. There is a county ordinance for commercial properties, but not residential.

  • 9 months ago

    Well, if it's county, it's really unlikely they will do anything then. A couple-few people with one residential land light isn't likely to get anything done in a whole county of thoudands of residents. Your complaint will likely get tossed into a stack and lost.

    You could try for a resident ordinance for light quality, but you would need to word it carefully. Take the power company into consideration with it since they make money off the light. County might not be too keen to pick a fight with the power company. And then get around to as much of the county as you can to get the peitition signed.

  • 9 months ago

    Honey you did not live in the country in the first place if the houses are only 50’ apart on a major thoroughfare. Your neighbors are not doing anything illegal; they are just rude. Put big, mature trees up to block the light. I would do the whole property line. Put exterior shutters on your house that you can close at night. What do allergens have to do with curtains? You have bed linens, what is the difference?

  • 9 months ago

    I have spoken with the neighbor and they have agreed to have the power company come out and hopefully install something to redirect the light into only their yard. The power company does make money off of the lights, but there should still be something in place county wide to stop people from placing them willy nilly everywhere. Our county has experienced rapid growth leading to many poeple purchasing country homes and bringing their city mindsets with them. The same neighbor planted multiple garden boxes right on top of their own septic drain lines. 🤨Some things take time to sort out and many are slow learners.

  • 9 months ago

    Maybe they'll be willing to change the fixture to the Enterprise LED or one of the other fixtures (e.g., Open Deluxe LED) whose light is directed downward, not outward towards your house and the surrounding area.

  • 9 months ago

    Thank you for the update. Sometimes a little conversation goes a long way, one just has to wait till the heat leaves the topic so it can be approached well.

  • 9 months ago

    It’s currently been 10 business days and they said it would be resolved in 5-7 business days. Now the issue is that the light still isn’t fixed and they dog barks for hours on end through the night at the deer in my backyard that it can see because of the light. 😣. I hope it’s resolved sooner rather than later.

  • 9 months ago

    I think you might be able to write a book about this soon. Best of luck in this …….

  • 9 months ago

    Have you spoken to the other three neighbors that are close by? How are they being impacted by the light?

  • 9 months ago

    A few years ago the condo building decided to "improve" its parking lot lighting and installed a pole light whose light shown in all the nearby windows. I removed the cover panel at the base of the light and disconnected the wires. A few days later the light had been removed.

  • 9 months ago

    Beesneeds because of the way the lamp is positioned right on the tree line the other two neighbors and the house that it belongs to are not impacted at all. That’s really the worst part of it all. The owners of the light get to sleep and have a dark room and are not affected by their poorly positioned light.

  • 9 months ago

    "The owners of the light get to sleep and have a dark room and are not affected by their poorly positioned light."

    Hmmm. If you disconnect the light, the owners may not even notice that the light no longer works!

  • 9 months ago

    There really is no way for me to disconnect the light and honestly they would notice on day one. The light is so bright that they would see it from the road pulling up. I plan to message them again tomorrow to see if any headway has been made. As of now, it definitely hasn’t been addressed.

  • 9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    How about a little target practice?

  • 9 months ago

    Shady willow, we are on 3.5 acres and the only reason the houses are close is due to utilities. I am allergic to dust mites, mold and trees among other things.

  • 9 months ago

    You could get washable curtains to block the light that is getting through the blinds. Just get 2 sets and wash them when you wash your bed linens.

  • 9 months ago

    I could, but that’s a major pain due to my 10’ ceilings and we wash bed linens weekly in hot water.

  • 9 months ago

    White is right. The problem is the light, not curtains to block the light.

  • 9 months ago

    So basically you want the neighbor to solve your problem, since it’s too much of an inconvenience for you to do much more on your end. Honestly a sleep mask would solve your problem but it would be too much of a hassle to wash that weekly.

  • 9 months ago

    Since it sounds like you are the only household being impacted by this, it's really unlikely your local government will do anything about it. It's a personal squabble between two neighbors, local goverments don't adminsiter to that. Sounds like the neighbor is within ordinance and rights on the light. If you want to involve your local government, you will need to research the county situation as a whole and work up a petition about what exactly you think the county should put in place as an ordiance going forward. Residential light quality can be an issue.

    I wouldn't tamper with it if I were you- it does belong to the power company and not the neighbor, and that can be handled differently legally when you damage personal property vs company property. It's probably not legal to damage it either way where you are, it would just could be handled differently because of who owns the light.

    On to more light mitigation... you say you planted in maples to help with that. But you are also allergic to trees, so that might become a problem as they mature. Also, they won't do much mitigation once they drop leaves in the fall. You might want to consider something evergreen, but not sure what to suggest due to your allergies.

    It seems like you need absolute blackout in your room at night. What did you do to block out moonlight previously? You seem unwilling to do regular washable curtains or shutters. Have you considered sleeping masks or goggles to completely block the light? Could hypoallergenic curtains work for you? Anit-mite blinds?

  • 9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    Elizabeth White: Don't listen to either of them. Block out moonlight? Sheesh. Keep up the good fight for Dark Sky!

  • 9 months ago

    @Shadywillowfarm There wasn't a problem until the neighbor created one. Not only is it inconsiderate to the surrounding neighbors but it is light pollution and is very bad for wildlife.

  • 9 months ago

    Bees all great points and I would not engage in light tampering, notice I haven’t even addressed those comments. I do use a sleep mask and wash it frequently, however at points my allergies make a mask uncomfortable especially when it has triggered a migraine or sinus infection. We do have blinds that get wiped down frequently and thankfully while I am allergic to many trees, I’m not allergic to maples. (Thats why we chose them) My husband is also impacted by this as well and does not has allergies.

    We are both conservationist and hunters and believe in keeping the outdoors clean and clear for all animals. Anyone who enjoys wildlife would see the impact of lighting up a whole field all night long. There used to be fireflies in our field, but no more. There used to be more deer, but the barking dog and light deter them.

    Eventually, our county will have residential light laws as they have already realized the impacts of commercial lighting on the night skies.

    As for Shadow Willow, I’m assuming you don’t live in nor have you visited North Carolina. Our state is very rural and houses in the country are frequently located on state highways. These are dark, two lane roads with a highway designation merely to ensure the state maintains them. Across the “highway” is a 20 acre corn field and on the other side is acres as far as the eye can see of tobacco. The light is very disturbing and was out there by neighbors who aren’t cognizant of wildlife, dark skies or others.

  • 9 months ago

    If you buy a house where the spacing between houses is 50’ and you are on a state highway then you can expect noise and lights. If you want silence and dark, buy 25 acres and build away from the road. Sheesh people, stop expecting the world to tiptoe around you. You do what you want on your property, and respect your neighbor to exercise their property rights on their property. If you can tolerate neighbors doing legal and allowable things on their property then move. The entitlement is ridiculous.

  • 9 months ago

    Shadywillow we own 47 across the river and hunt and fish it. Like I said you clearly haven’t been to NC if you only think dark and silence requires 25 acres. But thank you for your continued unhelpful input. I’m sure you’d be great friends with my neighbors.

  • 9 months ago

    Obviously shadywillowfarms hasn't been to rural NC. I too live in NC in a rural area. Roads designated state highways are 2 lane roads with absolutely no lights. They would be considered back roads in other places.



  • 9 months ago

    Thank you vinmarks. I feel like it’s difficult for some people to understand how rural our state is in many places. Maine and West Virginia are the only other places I have been where a state “highway” is as dark and desolate as ours. There’s aren’t even paved sometimes. 😂

  • 9 months ago

    Rural Vermont too!
    What Shady fails to understand is that even in midtown Manhattan, if someone had positioned their light so that it shone into other peoples apartments all night, it would be considered by most to be maddening and inconsiderate.
    I don’t know what drives people to comment if they have nothing nice to add.

  • 9 months ago

    It’s a matter of doing what you can with what is available to you, and expecting someone else to change things on their end to accommodate you. The neighbor installed a bright light on their property, well within the law and their rights as property owners. The OP wants to make the neighbor take down or change the light because it’s bothersome to her. The neighbor doesn’t appear to care. The OP refuses to consider any remedies on her end for a variety of frivolous reasons. Get a sleep mask. Putting up curtains will absolutely solve the problem, but it would be too bothersome to take them down and wash them weekly. I can’t imagine how that small task will add to the already large load of laundry generated by having to wash all the bed linens in hot water weekly. Yeah, we all agree the neighbor is rude, but there is nothing anyone can do to force the neighbor to make a change. The problem is not the problem; the problem is OP’s attitude about the problem.

  • 9 months ago

    Shady, I guess you haven’t looked back far enough to see where I already wear a sleep mask and I already have blinds and cover my windows that are allergy friendly.

    So are you saying my spouse in our 14-year-old son who’s window is on the second story and also looks out over onto the same field should have to wear a mask also?

    Contrary to what you may believe about my frivolous attitude, some people have offered some really great ideas and insight, and even shared links to hypoallergenic things that we can introduce into our bedroom. All you have done is tell me that I need to get over it and that I don’t live in the country. I invite you to my home to stay. You’re welcome to utilize my sons bedroom and while you’re here I hope you get a great night sleep.

    I’m very curious where you live. Do you get to take advantage of the night skies, are there fire flies on your farm? I will happily sell my current home and 47 acres across the river to move and be your next-door neighbor and I can promise you I won’t put any obnoxious lights up. I’ll share my produce and eggs for my chickens. If you were ill or laid up from surgery, I will offer to grocery shop for you or drive you to appointments. You see I’m that kind of Neighbor, the one who goes out of my way to be neighborly, and to be considerate of others.

  • 9 months ago

    I’m sure I don’t want you as a next door neighbor.🙂

  • 9 months ago

    😂😂😂 I can assure you the feeling is mutual!

    Best of luck wherever you live. I will say a prayer for your neighbors.

  • 9 months ago

    Living in a city, it saddens me that I am almost never able to see any stars due to the number of street and other lights. Some cities such as Boulder, CO have modified their lighting to follow Dark Sky standards. DC is replacing all its street lights with LEDs but the emphasis seems to be on energy savings, not stargazing.