Street lights are 'way too bright' for Hotchkiss man

By Kami Collins


The Hotchkiss Town Council, at its July meeting, again discussed town streetlights at the request of resident Matthew Kottenstette.

Several months ago he lobbied a complaint with the town about the two streetlights adjacent to his home on Orchard Street, which he said are too bright. The council discussed the issue at its May meeting, but since Kottenstette was not in attendance, no action was taken.

He was back at the July meeting to again request the town dim the lights.

In earlier discussions, the council noted that the two streetlights were necessary for safety reasons. These particular streetlights illuminate the railroad tracks on 2nd Street.

About a year ago, the town worked with Delta Montrose Electric Association to install new LED lights around town. On busier, main streets, the lights are 78 watts; on streets with less traffic, the wattage is 40.

Those lights are still way too bright, Kottenstette said. The lights shine into his back bedroom and into his living room, and even though his house is more than a football field length from the light poles, the light is still causing a nuisance. He asked the town to consider shielding or shading the lights, forcing the ambient light to shine down instead of out.

"I definitely understand the safety issues, but we would appreciate if the lights didn't flood so much light," he said.

Public works director Mike Owens said he has spoken with representatives from DMEA about this issue. He said there are no shields available for these types of lights. "All we can do is spend a lot of money on a voltage regulator, or change out the whole lamp out to a lower voltage," he told the council. "Those are our only choices, according to DMEA."

Kottenstette disagreed. "Some other municipality has probably had this issue," he said. "Someone has probably made some sort of shade structure -- I think something should be available."

"We can have the light removed -- it is up to you guys [the council]. But it is a safety issue," Owens said.

Trustee Larry Jakubiak said he'd rather try dimming the lights than having it removed, a sentiment all trustees agreed with. "It's worth a try," he said, but removal is not an option. "We're saving people $20,000 a year with these LED lights. They're a good thing. But I understand your problem too," he said to Kottenstette.

"We do need both of those lights, but if there is some way for us to direct that light down, we should. People obviously have concerns," Trustee Wills said. "I would assume another council has dealt with this, too."

At Kottenstette's request, the council tabled the issue until next month. In the meantime, Kottenstette offered to research the issue, see if other municipalities have dealt with similar problems, and bring back potential solutions next month. The council agreed to table the issue.

Kottenstette also submitted a letter of interest to fill the seat currently held by Jakubiak, who will serve through the August meeting and then will resign. Deputy town clerk Ginger Redden said four other residents have also submitted letters of interest; a new trustee will be seated at the September council meeting.