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Great Neck resident sues to block LED lights near her home

LED lights shine at Piccadilly and Colgate roads

LED lights shine at Piccadilly and Colgate roads in Great Neck on Feb. 20, 2018. About 800 LED streetlights have been installed in the village of Great Neck. A resident has filed a lawsuit claiming the lights disrupt her sleep, impair her vision and cause her severe stress. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman

Some of the more than 800 LED lights illuminating the village of Great Neck have prompted a nearly $1 million lawsuit from a resident who said the energy-saving bulbs disrupt her sleep, impair her vision and cause her severe stress.

Judith Youngblood, of Great Neck, filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court on Feb. 7 against the mayor, board of trustees and the clerk-treasurer. She is seeking a permanent injunction preventing the use of the light fixtures installed near her home.

The lawsuit names each of the village’s four trustees, Mayor Pedram Bral and Clerk-Treasurer Joe Gill as defendants.

The installation of “high intensity” LED bulbs emit “high levels of intense light directly into plaintiff’s home at night and make it impossible to sleep, use and enjoy the home she has lived in for the past 28 years,” the complaint reads.

Youngblood’s attorney, Tamara M. Harris, of Manhattan, could not be reached on Tuesday.

The village recently completed its project to replace more than 800 streetlights with LED bulbs at a total cost of about $600,000, Gill said. The project was funded in part by a $250,000 state grant, with the remainder offset by the village’s Community Benefit Fund.

The installation followed months of discussion at public meetings, with multiple residents voicing opposition to the LEDs, citing health and safety concerns.

The LED streetlights dotted around the village can be dimmed, Gill said, though the plan is not to “individually adjust” the roughly 830 bulbs near residences.

“The streetlights are meant for public safety, and certainly the safety of the many outweighs the few,” Gill added.

The village’s attorney, Andrew Preston, of Mineola-based Bee Ready Fishbein Hatter & Donovan LLP, filed an opposition to Youngblood’s complaint on Feb. 12, which states that the cases against the trustees should be dismissed and instead addressed solely to the village. He also argues that granting Youngblood’s injunction could lead to “unsafe conditions” for the rest of the community.

“A street lamp is not a substantial interference; indeed, the installation of something as simple as window shades may hide any intrusion of light at all,” the town’s complaint reads.

Village officials previously told Newsday that with the LEDs, they expected to halve the village’s $100,000 annual electric bill.

Youngblood is seeking compensatory damages of nearly $1 million, which include punitive and emotional damages, and legal fees.

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