Thursday, September 3, 2009
7 News Investigations: Light Fight Follow Up
A city saying let there be light at a stadium in one South Florida neighborhood, but residents won't be cheering the ruling. We first brought you this Light Fight earlier this week in a Seven News Investigation. Tonight, a decision that's bound to cause more controversy.
WSVN -- The issue here are these huge tall lights on the football field at Cardinal Gibbons High School. Some neighbors near here say the lights are illegal and should have never been approved by the city. Today a mediator hoped to bring all sides together, but that didn't happen.
Coral Ridge Country Club Estates is one of Fort Lauderdale's nicest neighborhoods, beautiful till you look up.
Towering over the homes are these gigantic poles just built to light up Cardinal Gibbons High School football field.
Jim Colonel: "Can you imagine coming down Bayview and all these lights are on?"
But soon they wont have to imagine the lights going on the homeowners. Next to the football field are about to see it.
Jim Colonel: "The lights will only benefit the school they don't benefit the neighborhood in any way."
But what's infuriating neighbors is that they are illegal.
Ed Deeb: "The school does not have the legal authority to have those lights. This residential community is zoned where 35 feet is the height limit and the school does not have 35 foot light poles. The school has 65 and 95 feet light poles."
Two of them are 95 feet tall, nearly three times taller than the City of Fort Lauderdale allows, and who gave the private Catholic High School permission to put up the lights, the City of Fort Lauderdale.
Paul Ott: "When we applied for a permit the city granted the permit. We purchased the lights, we put them up. There were several inspections, the city was well aware of everything that was going on."
The school paid nearly half a million dollars for the lights so students could play night games and avoid hot daytime events at a field nicknamed the Furnace. They cannot believe the installation may have been a mistake.
Paul Ott: "Shocked. Absolutely shocked."
The light fight continued at City Hall, this time in front of a city appointed mediator.
City Appointed Mediator: "We have a mediation here today to try to resolve this. How do you think we can resolve this?"
The hope was the mediator would help the High School and the neighbors come up with an agreement. Everyone could live with that did not happen.
Don Guevara: "The attorney for the neighbors tells Seven News the city caved to the Catholic High School. Under the agreement reached today, the school would be limited to 30 games a year and would have to limit attendance and provide security. The issue now goes to the Fort Lauderdale city commission who will have the final say."