Thursday, September 17, 2009

Check out Fauquier County's Updated Lighting Ordinance

Follow the links:
Government-Departments(drop down)-Community Development-Document Library-
Zoning Ordinance-Table of contents-Article 9 Part 10

Included are guidelines for managing glare

Friday, September 4, 2009

Marina Lighting

Of concern around large bodies of water now, is unshielded lighting used around boat docking areas. Safety in navigating boats into glaring lights is the main problem. Other problems include disruption of nocturnal wildlife, birds, and fish that live in these areas, and polluting of the night sky to those who come to water's edge to enjoy the stars.
Awareness is increasing at the state level and perhaps soon legislation will prevent or reduce this disruption of the night time environment. Without, may I add, taking away anyone's rights to light up their own pier or boardwalk!

State Ordinances

I have occasionally attempted to involve myself in the state level of fighting light pollution. IDA now has a DC office, to educate state lawmakers in this area which is a good thing. It has been suggested by the IDA home office that I stay at the local level, and leave the state level to the experts.

There are two concerns I have with recent new state ordinances, 1) that they are not enforceable, because they are watered down in order to allow for ease in passing, and 2) that if a clause is not included to say that a more stringent local ordinance supersedes the state ordinance, that the state will undermine the local effort.

I have read all the state lighting ordinances I can find. Later ordinances copy earlier ones, getting less strict as they evolve. I say an ordinance that is not enforceable or effective should not be passed into law. We as fighters against light pollution must believe enough in what we say, that a shielded light of any wattage is most effective for security, that we are willing to stand up for the idea, rather than appeasing the opposition just so that the ordinance will pass.

Residential shielded lighting

In the two years since Powhatan enacted its lighting ordinance, to include residential rules, almost a dozen other Virginia counties have residents who have contacted me about ordinances of their own. I am happy to say that Goochland County is now developing a lighting ordinance.

When speaking to local government officials about ordinances, I have found that there is a reluctance to include residential properties. The main answer to my questions as to why, is that the people will object, saying that their rights are being taken away.

1. It only takes one bad light to ruin the night sky for everyone far around.

2. No one's rights are being taken away. Anyone may light up their own yard. Regulations merely say that the light must be shielded so glare stops at the property line. This can be accomplished with inexpensive covers over the light source. Rights are being preserved in this manner, the rights of neighbors who prefer dark skies not to have a neighbor decide against that preference.

Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) Lighting

Virginia Department of Corrections Engineering Department is building its newest prison in Southwest Virginia, Grayson County, with almost 100% fully shielded outdoor security lighting. They have had the foresight as well to use darker, non reflective surfaces on roofs and grounds, (mostly grass and dirt, and dark red roofs). Future prisons in other counties when replaced can use this same type of night sky optimal lighting.
If a prison with its need for maximum security can use these lights, than so can any construction. Highest praise to the engineers who have committed to reducing light pollution by their willingness to listen to new ideas, and in so doing are setting a good example for other states' Corrections Departments.