Utah residents complain about new fire station

Deseret Morning News

HIGHLAND, Utah — Dan Baxter peers out his front window at the new neighbor that blocks his views of American Fork Canyon, has forced him to abandon the front half of his home and is currently shining a bright red light on his face. "It's almost as if the building is positioned to shine the lights right in our home," he said.

"Our living room is unusable." Baxter and his wife, Mary, have lived in their Highland home for 32 years.

But since the city's new fire station opened up a year and a half ago, they say their property has become unlivable.

The lights from the $2.9 million facility — the floodlight through the red Highland insignia, the circular lights on the trucks and the six red and green lights on the bay doors — have become so intrusive that, on busy nights, their home feels like a "combat zone," he said.

The 17,000-square-foot station sits 150 feet from the Baxters' front window. Baxter praises the city's firefighters, who no longer turn on their sirens when leaving the station.

But their lights shine, blink, flash and spin at all hours. They bounce off the windows, and curtains barely ease the problem.

Baxter wants the city to pay for a landscaping barrier to block the lights, an action that would cost between $8,000 and $20,000.

He's spoken to the Highland City Council three times in the past two months about their nightmare neighbor.

And after months of the Baxters feeling ignored, the council plans to visit the Baxters' home on 5600 West Tuesday night to see the problem firsthand.

"I can understand. The lights circulate around in their living room, and it makes them sick to their stomach," said Councilwoman Kathryn Schramm, who visited the Baxters earlier this month to see how the city mitigated the problem and found that nothing had been done.

But the Baxters' plea for cash-strapped city funds begs the question: Where were they when public hearings were held years ago? Why did they never respond to the mailed public notices about the station?

Baxter says the couple was in Carbon County caring for Mary's ailing father, who died shortly after the station's groundbreaking.

He says he "doesn't want to burn the city, by no means," but he feels it should pay for a mid-priced evergreen berm.

Baxter has gotten estimates from four landscaping companies.

"I'm still in total disbelief that no one considered this," he said, adding that he assumed elected officials would use more tact in the decision to place a fire station in a quiet, residential neighborhood.

Councilman Brian Brunson organized the tour. The council plans to discuss the city's options in the matter Tuesday night, though no vote will be taken.

Copyright 2009 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

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