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For the week of Mar. 22 through Mar. 28, 2000

Need for dark sky ordinance questioned
in Sun Valley

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission are uncertain whether the city needs an ordinance that would protect night skies from the city’s night lights.

In a joint meeting Thursday, Councilman Kevin Laird continued to be outspoken in questioning the need for an ordinance. He was joined by Sun Valley Co. general manager Wally Huffman.

According to Sun Valley planning administrator Jack Cloud, the city’s planning staff and planning and zoning commission will complete an inventory of the city’s poor lighting in coming months. The commission and city council will then be able to decide if an ordinance is needed in the city.

The planning and zoning commission and planning staff will also draft lighting standards, Cloud said.

A dark sky ordinance limits glare and light pollution by imposing restrictions on wattage allowances and types of light fixtures.

Huffman cautioned city officials and said, "My first sense of this is that it’s Shakespearean: ‘It’s much ado about nothing.’"

"If this municipality needs a dark sky ordinance, which I doubt, then you need to look at residential areas and commercial areas separately," he said.

Huffman asked about Sun Valley Co.’s ice rink, ice shows, decorative lighting and the eventual potential for night skiing on Dollar Mountain.

Those are all things the city probably doesn’t want to preclude in approving a dark sky ordinance, Huffman pointed out.

City council and P&Z members agreed to take those things into consideration.

Some agreed that different zones would need to be treated differently if an ordinance is ever adopted.

Cloud said he expects the commission will have a draft ordinance to present to the council in two to three months.


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