Bulb edict irks homeowners 
By Thomas Ropp
Article Courtesy of The Arizona Republic
July 24, 2002 

FOUNTAIN HILLS - They may not be the brightest bulbs, but that's exactly how a Fountain Hills homeowners association wants it.

The war between dim and dimmer began when a homeowner at Villa Estates condominium community decided to rewire the carriage-style lights outside his garage to save money.

The 46 units were built with two or three 60-watt fixtures outside the garage that automatically turn on at night.

The handyman homeowner figured he'd save $15 a month by switching two bulbs to 15 watts and darkening the third. 

The Villa Estates Home Owner's Association board was so pleased with the results that it decided to adopt a new lighting policy requiring all homeowners to have their garage lights rewired to the lower wattage.

Villa Estates homeowners Robert and Kathryn Miller think it's not such a bright idea.

"What attracted us to the property was that everything was well-lit," Kathryn Miller said. "It was also a security issue since Fountain Hills has no street lamps. Now we've been forced to go from 180 watts of light down to 30."

She and her husband also dislike the "ugly yellow glow" of the lower wattage.

Association President Ron Adler likes the new policy because bulbs won't burn out as fast.

"The 60-watt bulbs were burning out every couple of months," Adler said. "We wanted to have all the homes with their lights lit."

Adler said it was dangerous for elderly homeowners to be standing on ladders changing bulbs all the time. 

He said security isn't an issue because homeowners enter their homes from their garages.

The Millers contacted the Fountain Hills fire marshal to complain, but Adler said the town has approved the rewiring of the bulbs.

"These people are unbelievable," Adler said. "This was a unanimous board decision. Everybody else likes the lights." 

Not exactly. Len and Rita Miller, no relation to Robert and Kathryn, own the condo unit next to Adler. 

Rita, 87, said she and her husband can no longer walk around the neighborhood at night because it's so dark. 

Len, 84, suffers from shingles and other health problems. 

Rita said he had to be taken to the emergency room last week because of the stress over the lighting.

"That man (Adler) is making our lives miserable," Rita Miller said. 

"I thought I lived in America," Kathryn Miller said. "Who would have thought that people can knock on your door and take down your lights like that."

The Villa Estates association has no bylaws governing lights.