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For the week of Mar. 15 through Mar. 21, 2000

Dark skies forecast

Lighting ordinance soon to go into effect

Express Staff Writer

And Ketchum’s city officials said, "Let there be darkness."

Ketchum’s business owners have three and a half months to come into conformance with the city’s new dark sky ordinance, and the city itself is setting an example.

Idaho Power, the valley’s electricity provider, is working with the city to change city streetlight fixtures, bringing them into conformance with the ordinance.

Two weeks ago, three streetlights—at the corner of Fifth Street and East Avenue, Fifth Street and Walnut Avenue and one in front of the Charles Stuhlberg Gallery on East Avenue—were changed to conform to the new measure.

Their formerly round lenses were replaced with flat ones, and the bulbs, which are recessed in the light fixtures’ heads, can now only shine downward. Such lights are called "full cutoff."

Being on the right side of the dark side

Ketchum city administrator Jim Jaquet said in an interview that the city is waiting for information regarding cost of the fixtures. Until estimates arrive, he said, he won’t know the time required to change all the city’s lights.

The dark sky ordinance, adopted last June 30, after six months of city hearings, mandates that commercial property owners come into conformance with the new law within one year of its adoption date. Residential property owners have two years.

The dark sky ordinance is designed to protect city residents and visitors from glare and excessive lighting, while providing nighttime safety.

It requires outdoor lights to be shielded and holds lights to a 25-foot height limit. Architect-inspired landscape and skyward lighting are prohibited.

"By getting the streetlights in compliance, and the commercial lights into compliance, you’ll have the majority of the offensive light taken care of," Jaquet said. "The light that is the high intensity light, by and large, comes from commercial, streetlights and private security lights."

Private security lights are not to be confused with home motion sensor lights, which are exempted in the ordinance.

If Ketchum businesses or property owners are found to be in violation of the dark sky ordinance, a warning will be issued. If, after 30 days, property owners do not comply, they can be fined $100.

Blaine County, Hailey and the city of Sun Valley have also begun to work on dark sky ordinances.


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