Wilde Lake resident disputes restrictions on lighting

March 02, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

A Wilde Lake village resident who has become embroiled in a dispute with village officials over lighting at his condominium complex says Columbia "has outgrown its covenants" because the architectural standards don't consider security issues.

Guy Holly, a Bryant Gardens resident, said he is exasperated with the village Architectural Committee for disapproving three of 13 bright security lights the condominium association erected to increase safety. The architectural review process provides no opportunity for appeals, he said.

Village covenants and the committee have not evolved to reflect the growth in Columbia, which has sparse street lighting, Mr. Holly said.

"Wilde Lake has gotten tough. It's the oldest community in Columbia, and it's starting to show it," said Mr. Holly, 38, a banker and 13-year Wilde Lake resident who has lived at Bryant Gardens on Green Mountain Circle for eight years.

"I think the village boards and architectural committees were fine when Columbia had 10,000 people. Now Columbia is a city," he said.

"Sometimes you need to set up a system with professionals who know what's required and how to deal with things like this. The days of these little committees trying to govern Columbia have long past," Mr. Holly said.

The troubles for the Bryant Gardens Condominium Board of Directors began last fall when Wilde Lake covenant adviser Fran Linfield said that floodlights had been erected without approval.

The condominium board had installed lights on the advice of the county police department's Crime Prevention Section.

Ms. Linfield required the condominium board to apply for approval. The Architectural Committee disapproved three lights, including one on Mr. Holly's building. Ms. Linfield said the village received anonymous complaints about the lights from several Bryant Gardens residents, two residents from the nearby Roslyn Rise apartments and a few motorists on Twin Rivers Road.

The condominium association had three lights adjusted downward, illuminating less territory. Mr. Holly and Diana Montgomery, vice president of the condominium board, said they didn't expect any change would be required until the association received results of a Baltimore Gas and Electric lighting analysis.

Ms. Linfield says the adjustments probably will bring the lights into compliance with covenants. "Very seldom do we not reach some compromise if everybody gives a little," she said.

Mr. Holly contends that the changes defeat the purpose. "We're very vulnerable here," he said.

Mr. Holly said he has had his windows and sliding glass door smashed several times by rocks hurled at his ground-level unit.

Other crimes, such as vandalism to cars and instances of people found sleeping in stairwells, have further frightened residents, Mr. Holly said.

Architectural Committee Chairwoman Karen Wallace said the committee did not order the condominium association to adjust the lights and was not involved in making the changes.

The committee disapproved the lights because they were "unnecessarily intrusive," she said.

"Security lights are definitely needed, but care needs to be taken that you're illuminating your property and not someone else's or out into the street," Ms. Wallace says.

The Architectural Committee makes decisions on exterior alterations to property based on their effects on appearances, not security, Ms. Wallace acknowledged. But she said that the committee is aware of security and has helped other Wilde Lake property owners deal with public safety concerns.

"The object in deliberations is to give a homeowner anything he thinks he needs if it can be done without compromising criteria for appearance," she said. "It's not a matter of saying lighting is not pretty. It's very necessary. My ideal is to get as much lighting as we possibly can without intruding."

Ms. Montgomery, 40, who works the night shift as an emergency medical technician, said the Architectural Committee shouldn't interfere with a condominium board "acting responsibly to its unit owners."

"I want to make sure they're making a choice taking my concerns into consideration, my safety, not just aesthetics, which was fine in the 60s but not in the 90s," she said.

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