Help me understand what this discription means,
Posted 12 January 2012 - 09:47 AM
I have requested a meeting with my local zoning director about some lights that are not to code according to how I understand our regulations. I was at the meetings when this was adopted in 2005, and asked some of my opinions. At the time is sounded pretty good, but it never has been tested that I know of, other than my earlier battle with another neighbor. The electric company still puts up non shielded lights to this day.
A new neighbor has had a dusk to dawn light installed, no shields, that casts a shadow on my obervatory even though it is several hundred yards away. It is down hill and probably eye level so I am thinking I should not even see the bulb if it is shielded?
This ordinance was adopter December 2005.
F.) Outdoor Lighting: All Development Plans, Major Subdivision Plats and non-residential site plans submitted for review, consideration and approval by the Planning Commission shall submit a Lighting Plan as required by Article V(1)©(III)(5), Community Services Impact Statement, Lighting, of zoning ordinance, and Articles 2.201(f) and 3.304(III)(O) of the Subdivision Regulations for the Jessamine County-City of Wilmore Joint Planning Commission. The intent is to eliminate glare, minimize light trespass beyond the property proposed to be developed, and eliminate hazards associated with light shining onto roads that may cause tempoary blindness of motorists.
No Lighting shall be permitted which would glare onto any street, into any adjacent property, or deemed as light trespass. Full-cutoff lighting fixtures shall be required for parking lot lighting. Wall-packs and floodlights shall either be full-cutoff design or have shields such that they do not put any light above the horizon and shall be mounted to not glare on any roadways and neighboring properties. Typical pole mounted "dust to dawn" security lights shall use reflecting skycaps instead of clear plastic refractors.
My main issue here is the last 2 sentences, does it mean a hubble skycap? It says no plastic refractor so is this the globe?
Thanks for any opinions,
Posted 12 January 2012 - 11:43 AM
1. "No Lighting shall be permitted ...deemed as light trespass." If the lighting fixture is on their property but light from it is directly casting shadows on yours, to me, that's light trespass. SO, it is important to see if the ordinance actually defines light trespass. If not, research a LOT of ordinances and other definitions of light trespass so you have some arrows in your quiver, so to speak.
2. "Typical pole mounted "dust to dawn" security lights shall use reflecting skycaps" The way I read this, you have some good ammo, but the wording is problematic. What is a "typical" pole mounted security light? They may argue non-typical, but I think that's a weak argument, given the overall intent that the ordinance seems to indicate. And a skycap is, I believe, referring to an opaque reflector that aims the light down, and eliminates sideways/upwards light.
That's my take on it.
Posted 12 January 2012 - 12:31 PM
You've actually included several issues in you post. Generally, utility companies seem to be exempted from lighting regulations generated by communities. In addition, often, local communities will exempt their own facilities from the lighting ordinances.
As far as the portion of your local code which you referred to, you may wish to look for a definition in the local code to clarify what the intent was with "Clear, Plastic Refractor". In my community, the Town's streetlights use a clear polycarbonate lens which acts as a refractor to diffuse the point lighting of the lamp.
The bottom line looks like you are on solid ground. If the light fixture was installed after the ordinance was enacted, and generates light trespass, you should be entitled to relief. As I am sure you are aware, the person-to-person steps required to get that relief are sometimes the most difficult.
Assuming that your code enforcement officer agrees with your position, don't be surprised if the officer asks whether you have already spoken with your neighbor. Code enforcement officers would like to see neighbors resolving these issues without local government intervention. However, when you talk to your neighbor, don't be afriad to mention that you have spoken with Code Enforcement. DO TRY to maintain a calm, rational approach. (I'm sure that you will-just a reminder)
As an aside, when we were conducting public hearings for our proposed ordinance, one resident said that he wanted more lighting on his street, rather than less, because his street was already too dark. He clearly had NO understanding of what we were trying to achieve, and seemed either incapable, or unwilling to listen to our position that lighting shining into the sky was our focus.
Clear, Dark, and Steady,
Posted 12 January 2012 - 12:59 PM
If a yardstick casts a visible shadow on the complaining property, on a dark moonless night, it is considered light trespass. Simple but the code guys understand the test.
The loopholes related to "architectural lighting" or grandfathered light all seem to slide by. In your situation is seems like the trespass test is what needs to be defined, and what loophole the guy stands behind?
Good luck..... Just my two cents..
Posted 12 January 2012 - 02:09 PM
You've actually included several issues in you post. Generally, utility companies seem to be exempted from lighting regulations generated by communities.
That would certainly be an easy out for them, and since they are half the problem it would really hurt the overall effectiveness of the ordinance.
This is a new neighbor, just finished building and moved in the other day it looks like. I do not want to get off on the wrong foot since their house is actually closer to me than the pole light. They could light up the entire house and really screw with me. I hope they don't but I do not want to give them any reason to at this point. That is my reason for asking the local board to tell me how they interpet the discription. So is it better to "nip it in the bud" before they get carried away with lights, or just wait and see?
I have talked to the head of the County Zoning office since the first post. He is a younger guy so I really think this is good, at least compared to dealing with someone that has been there a long time. He said he will read over the section on lighting and get more familar with it before making any comments.
I sent him some links to examples of how shields and cut-off fixtures are designed to work, and also to darksky.org. He does agree that it sounds like these pole lights should be fully shielded. John, this is where he did say the utility company's are exempt from certain things too, but did not think it in this case. Again he wanted more time to study this.
So over all he listened and genuinely sounded interested.
In my email I told him that when I moved here 20 years ago it was because of the dark skies, and more laid back rural atmosphere of this county. And how in just the last few years it has changed remarkably fast, and if we let it keep going we will soon look like any other suburb of a big city.
So I will contact him back next week if I don't hear anything before then.
Thanks for the comments.
Posted 12 January 2012 - 02:14 PM
It appears our ordinance does not have a way to determine in a cut and dry manor. The yardstick rule might work, I'll give it a try tonight although it will be hard to tell in a snow storm
A light would have to be fairly bright to give a shadow of a yard stick? I saw my shadow easily not sure if a 2" wide stick would show much of one.
More good things to ask the department.
Posted 12 January 2012 - 02:59 PM
We found that the two most effective arguements were operating costs and safety. Most people don't care that you're an astronomer and see well in the dark.
To address Tom's question, our code uses direct illumination from the lamp as the test for trespass. Most people in violation need the details explained repeatedly in order to understand that "seeing that the light fixture is illuminated" does not constitute trespass. Glare from the filament or the lamp itself is trespass.
Posted 12 January 2012 - 08:29 PM
That is a fairly well-written lighting ordinance, in my opinion... the parts that seem slightly unclear are necessary to allow some degree of flexibility and discretion on the part of the authorities in responding to situations such as you find yourself in.
Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:30 PM
Although I am not a planning/zoning official, I happen to work at a planning commission (in Kentucky, no less) and I can tell you that from what I've picked up over the years in discussions and at meetings, my first reaction is that the ordinance in question may not apply in your situation because it appears to be written to deal with new developments and new subdivision plans, and not existing developments or residential developments already in place.
Now let me again emphasize that I'm not a zoning official but I can run the wording by some professionals where I work for their opinion. However, I'm fairly certain that the code doesn't apply in your situation.
Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:59 PM
I sure hope my local guy does not see it that way.
Thanks for the comment, even though I don't like it
Posted 13 January 2012 - 05:29 AM
Posted 13 January 2012 - 06:53 AM
Posted 13 January 2012 - 07:23 AM
Posted 13 January 2012 - 07:54 AM
The second paragraph (unless superceded by some other section of the code) is the paragraph we are concerned with, and therein is the blanket restriction on light trespass. The title of section "F" does not restrict to those projects undergoing review.
On Edit: While I have no reason to believe that Dean has not transcribed the pertinent section of code accurately, a review of the entire code might shine a brighter light on the "native construction" of this code. All administrative groups draft ordinances in which the approved language reflects the organization skills of the officials drafting those ordinances. ( I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, as a member of the P&Z commission locally)
Posted 13 January 2012 - 11:29 AM
This ordinance is under section
3.21 All Zones;
So it does look like it may only apply to developments and subdivisions. This really irks me that I did not catch this when it was drawn up and approved. Hope it somehow will apply across the board.
Will keep you posted what I find out.
Posted 16 January 2012 - 12:09 PM
Go talk to him with the zoning director or his representative and try to make him aware of the ordinance (he almost certainly has no idea the ordinance is on the books) and help him with the solution.
Two out of three people probably will automatically become defensive but if you can manage the situation in such a way that he becomes the one out of three that is friendly and cooperative you have scored a double win.
If you pull this off your zoning board will view you as a reasonable kind of guy and will not hate to see you come back if you should need to in the future.
Posted 17 January 2012 - 11:42 AM
It's likely he doesn't want to start out on the wrong foot with any existing neighbors (such as yourself) either. I would only bring out the zoning ordinance issue if you get the vibe that he's stubbornly balking at any willingness to be mutually accommodating about the issue, because as you unfortunately know from experience with another neighbor, some people are simply horse's arses and have to be corralled by whatever lawful force is at your disposal. But a majority of people are reasonable and will want to meet you at least halfway, so long as you don't put them through undue hassle.
Posted 17 January 2012 - 03:33 PM
I have been looking at the placement of this new light, and since it is sort of low, I think I will put up a blocking panel in the mean time. I can come up from my fence, then brace it off another building. Too bad this light was not over another 50 yards or so as the building would have blocked it from view.
But if we do not start geting some clear nights soon, who cares??? What a terrible winter for astronomy this year. Little snow, but a lot of clouds and rain.
As for talking with the nieghbors directly, I want to wait until the weather gets better, and perhaps invite them over for a view. I have a nice pond and if they have kids it might not be that long before the want to talk to me too.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions.