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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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For the week of April 24 - 30, 2002


Hailey passes 
dark sky law

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council adopted a "dark sky" ordinance at its meeting Monday night, insuring its residents will be able to see the Milky Way at night and to sleep in their bedrooms without resorting to blackout curtains.

The outdoor lighting ordinance will regulate light pollution, which is defined as glare, light trespass, uplighting, discomfort to the eye, uncomfortable distraction to the eye or diminishing the ability to see the night sky.

In short, outdoor lighting is to be directed downward only, and its illuminance or brightness will be regulated.

Most of the public comment at the meeting Monday was positive, but some people had reservations about the ordinance.

Ken Carwin, owner of the Wood River Inn on Main Street, called the ordinance a "risky scheme."

He argued that if the ordinance were enacted, crime would increase because lighting would be reduced.

He also claimed it would cost him between $45,000 and $50,000 to retrofit the outdoor lighting of his business.

At one point he referred to Dr. Stephen Pauley, the amateur astronomer who promoted Ketchumís dark sky ordinance.

"I would be interested in knowing the cost to me for his ability to use his telescope," Carwin said.

Another resident, Tracy Lotz, called the ordinance a "special interest."

He told the council his story about being "accosted" in his driveway by a stranger.

"Do you realize your back porch light has been on for the last two nights?" the stranger asked.

"This is dark sky territory," the man told Lotz. "How dare you leave your light on?"

Lotz told the council he was unaware the light had been left on.

"My point is, when this becomes law, will people be courteous?" he asked.

Dan Kunkel said he worried about his elderly father who said he had a hard time getting around Hailey at night with the lighting as it is.

"It only takes a few minutes to go up one of the nearby canyons, if you want dark sky," Kunkel said.

On the positive side, Andy Harding said he thought the ordinance was great.

He said he was in favor of the ordinance and its requirement for shielded lighting, so that light wasnít scattered, "not doing anyone any good."

Kurt Nelson said that he noticed over the last five years that Hailey had more ambient light shining off nearby mountainsides.

He called light intrusion "an insidious creep."

Pauley told the council that the ordinance was "a quality of life issue for Hailey."

"You shouldnít be sleeping with lights shining in your bedroom. You donít want to be able to read a newspaper by someone elseís light," he said.

Pauley said the problem the elderly have with night lighting is the glare, not that it isnít bright enough.

"Shielded light means the light goes down, not out," he said. "You donít sacrifice safety.

"Weíre not saying to turn out the lights, but to control them," Pauley said.

The council, with Council President Susan McBryant sitting in for the absent Mayor Al Lindley, unanimously approved the ordinance, but it still has to be read two more times in two future council meetings.

This means the ordinance can still undergo changes.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.