Bright Lights, Big City

Neglectful property owners and an aging housing stock make for a busy City Housing Court docket.  Raggedy stairs.  Missing roofs.  Dangerous porches.  Bright lights.  Bright lights?  Yepp.  Sal Zambito, a principal with Sunset Bay Park, Inc. which converted the apartment building at 65 Whitney Place in the Historic West Village into six condominiums, is heading to housing court over a light illuminating the building’s parking lot at 239 Carolina Street.  Did someone say real estate investing is hassle-free?

The complaint, written by Building Inspector Lou Petrucci lists only one count, specifically, Buffalo Code B165.26 Area Lighting Affecting Neighbor. 

The offensive light is a 400w commercial light with a short visor on it.  It is approximately 80 feet away from the houses on Johnson Park where one of the owners has complained.  The light shines across the backyard of The Whitney, across an empty lot at 237 Carolina about 30 feet, across the new parking lot at 239 Carolina about 28 feet, then into the back of the houses on Johnson Park. There is a collapsing graffiti-painted concrete block wall which separates the parking lot from the backyards on Johnson Park.


“I went to city hall on Friday and received a copy of the code which I believe is vague,” says Zambito.  “I’m still unsure as to what is required by the parking lot variance.”

According to Zambito, “Lou has been helpful but stated he ‘spoke to the principals of the corporation twice asking them to adjust the lighting.’  He did not.”

“I met with Lou last Tuesday night and tried to settle the issue with the neighbor but I’m not sure if the case is dropped,” says Zambito.  “Certainly my company wants to be a good neighbor but we also agreed to light the parking lot when our variance was granted.”  

Zambito, who has over fifty city property rehabs and sales under his belt, understands the straying light needs to be corrected.  One neighbor described the light as “extremely bright” and “Close Encounters-like” inside one of the homes.

“We changed the lighting fixture completely from a white light to an amber one right after a complaint was made,” says Zambito.  “We have also pointed the fixture down and put a visor on it.  The longer temporary visor fell off since the meeting with Lou so the neighbor has been calling me again.  We’ve ordered a new visor this past week but it hasn’t come in yet.”

Somehow the annoying light even got onto Assemblyman Sam Hoyt’s radar.  Hoyt texted Zambito two weeks ago seeking information on the bright bulb. 

It is just another headache for those trying to do the right thing in Buffalo.  Arraignment of Florida resident Zambito is scheduled for July 6 in front of Judge Nowak.

About the author  ⁄ Dan Fisher

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