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For the week of December 10 - 16, 2003

News

Sun Valley P&Z endorses lighting ordinance

Legislation will go before
City Council in 2004


By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Planning and Zoning commissioners Tuesday, Dec. 9, unanimously endorsed a proposed ordinance designed to control light pollution in the city limits.

After making a series of minor changes to the cityís draft "Exterior Lighting Ordinance," commissioners voted 5-0 to send the legislation to the City Council for final approval.

It is likely the City Council will review and consider the new ordinance in early 2004.

If approved by the city, the ordinance would become the third of its kind in the Wood River Valley. Ketchum and Hailey have already enacted ordinances to regulate exterior lighting.

Sun Valley Mayor-elect Jon Thorson praised the P&Zís action Tuesday, noting that he believes the ordinance is "fabulous."

At issue is an eight-page piece of legislation that has been in draft form for approximately two years.

The P&Z and city planning staff recently made a push to complete the ordinance, after postponing the project when a series of large development proposals were submitted to the city in 2002.

The legislation is designed primarily to create lighting standards for all new construction in the city, as well as to eventually bring existing residential, commercial and institutional properties into compliance with the proposed standards.

"Itís more than providing a dark sky for astronomers," said Community Development Director Jack Cloud.

The stated goals of the ordinance include minimizing the effects of glare and excessive lighting, preventing light trespass from one property to another, and to "provide safe roadways for motorists."

Generally, the draft ordinance proposes that all exterior lighting in the city should be "downcast and fully shielded," except in some specific cases, including:

  • Fixtures emitting the equivalent light of a 60-watt bulb, which may be left partially shielded if the lamp is not visible and is under an opaque top or a solid overhang.

     
  • Specially approved lights used by commercial or resort-related businesses.

     
  • Residential holiday lighting, which may be used from Nov. 1 to March 15, if it does not flash and is turned off by 11 p.m. each night.

     
  • Floodlights with external shielding "provided that no light is directed above a 30-degree angle" and no glare is caused.

The ordinance states that all new development projects in the city must comply with its provisions.

As proposed by the P&Z, all existing exterior lighting in the city must be brought into conformance with the ordinance within 18 months of its approval by the City Council.

 

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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.