Bright lights under fire in Durham

July 24, 2008 9:25:34 PM PDT
Bull City leaders believe bright lights are an effective way to discourage crime. Others believe they're taking the wrong approach.The topic came up in a city council work session. A group of residents say they already have one street and believe more will ruin their neighborhood.

The Tyler Court neighborhood is a place where people can enjoy a rocking chair at late hours.

Described as a quiet, low crime area, where residents say one street light is more than enough.

"The policy is well intended, but it paints with too broad of a brush," Concerned Resident David Chasteen said.

Chasteen and a handful of homeowners were at city hall Thursday afternoon, calling a proposal for two new street lights a potential nuisance to nature.

"We collect lightning bugs and bring them in our backyard, they're all around and just that joy and wonder of nature and the world and you lose that with the light at night from street lights," Chasteen said.

He also cites a study that says lights increase the chances of breast cancer in his wife who has a family history.

The Durham Police Department sites studies showing lights deter crime.

"We just look at it from the perspective of, will it be better lit and will it lead to crime prevention," Durham Deputy Police Chief Ronald Hodge said.

Residents are allowed to anonymously request lights when they feel threatened.

Officials say there are apparently residents in the Tyler Court area who don't feel as safe as Chasteen.

"We know one another pretty well it surprises us that they say somebody's still calling in - saying they're not getting their needs met," Chasteen said.

Street lights are a specific part of the city's crime fighting plan implemented 10 years ago.

Some argue crime prone areas are being overlooked for places like Tyler Court. City leaders recommended a review of the policy.


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