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As I See It

Hal Sundin

Last year, I had the pleasure of serving on the city’s Ad Hoc Lighting Committee. There were a dozen active participants on the committee. It was charged with reviewing a draft lighting ordinance prepared a year earlier, and modifying it to be responsive to the needs and wishes of the community. The members of the committee, representing a diverse range of interests, met every other week from January through November of 2001. In December, after some fine tuning by the City Council, the ordinance was approved by Council, taking effect in January of this year as an amendment to the city’s development code and setting standards for exterior lighting.

The exterior lighting standards, as adopted, have three objectives: to reduce “light pollution” which obscures the night sky; to prevent glare and light trespass from interfering with the privacy and enjoyment of neighboring properties; and to reduce energy consumption.

Soon after adoption of the exterior lighting standards, the city notified all businesses and governmental agencies within the city of the requirements of the standards. The city also sent each of these entities a survey form, to be returned within 30 days, identifying any modifications to existing lighting required to bring that lighting into compliance with the new requirements. The standards also require that the appropriate modifications be completed within one year after the return of the form.

However, six months after the adoption of the standards, the city has not yet notified residential property owners of how the standards apply to them, and what actions they should take to bring their exterior lighting into compliance. How can Glenwood Springs residents bring their exterior lighting into compliance when they have not been informed of the requirements of the standards, or may not be aware that the standards even exist?

The following is a paraphrasing of the sections of the standards which apply to residential properties. This information is offered as a public service only and is not intended to be a legal interpretation of the standards.

The standards suggest full shielding of light sources and the use of frosted bulbs and lenses to reduce glare and light trespass onto adjoining properties.

Exterior lighting should be extinguished as soon as outdoor activities end.

Photocells which keep lights on all night are discouraged. They unnecessarily light up the night sky, intrude on neighbors, and waste electricity.

Unshielded lights, lamps or floodlights producing glare or light trespass are prohibited. Flood lighting is required to be fully shielded, down directed, and screened from view from adjacent properties.

Compliance with the standards is required by the end of this year. Even more to the point, however, is that compliance shows consideration for our neighbors. The ordinance adopting the standards urges all property owners to consider the impacts of their lighting on their neighbors.

So be a good neighbor. Walk around the boundaries of your property with your exterior lights turned on to see how they affect your neighbors.

Are any of your lights unnecessarily bright? Are they a source of glare when you look directly at them? Do they throw light up into the sky or onto your neighbor’s property?

Are they improperly directed so that they go beyond the task of illuminating selected areas on your property and throw light onto your neighbor’s property? Are any of your exterior lights turned on all night?

Then look to see what modifications can be made to correct these problems. Most of them are relatively simple, including replacing bulbs with lower wattage frosted bulbs, reaiming floodlights, adding shielding, and substituting manual control for photocell control.

The ideal exterior lighting system should illuminate only the desired areas on your property and only for the time needed, in such a way that the source of the lighting is as unobtrusive as possible.


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