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Local News

Summit County Council Members Say They've Been Slammed With Complaints On Woodward Lighting

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Members of the Summit County Council on Wednesday said they’ve been getting a stream of complaints about the lighting from the Woodward youth sports facility off Kilby Road.

At the same time, they acknowledged the project has basically complied with the lighting regulations set in the county’s approval.  

During an informal Council Comments discussion, Member Chris Robinson said they’re dealing with an unintended consequence.  

Robinson said he’s astounded by the impact of the lighting.     

“Y’know, it’s…you can probably see it from space.  (Clyde) I would suspect so.”

Council Chairman Doug Clyde, reacting there, said the staff met three or four weeks ago with a Woodward representative.   He said  that in terms of the county’s approval, the lighting issues that came up at that time were definitely minor.   Clyde said that the area lighting at the facility is compliant with the county’s Conditional Use Permit.

Council Member Kim Carson said the situation is unfortunate.   

“You think of a ski area, and most of the ski areas that we have, like in the city.  They, except for designated runs where they have night skiing or racing, even when they’re doing their grooming and things, it’s not lit up like that.  And it’s something we didn’t anticipate in the approval process.  When we talked about the number of lights, I don’t think any of us anticipated that that’s what the result would be.”

Council Member Roger Armstrong said he had expected the lighting would be comparable to the old Gorgoza sliding hill.   He said there are likely solutions Woodward can implement.

Clyde said as a resort planner in his private career, he’s worked on ski hill lighting, in compliance with Dark Skies controls.   

“The thing about Dark Sky regulations and ski run lighting is, I don’t think that the Dark Sky Society ever considered what it’s like when you light a surface that is close to 100 percent reflective.”

He said the issue is one of lumens, and impacts across the slope area.        

“The most important thing about area lighting is that your lumens, the amount of illumination you have on any square foot is reasonably well-averaged.  It’s not that this has to be 100 lumens and at minimum, you can’t go below 10.  It’s that you want the ratio to be 4 to 1, 5 to 1, not 10 to 1.  So you can get down to very low levels of lighting, and still be quote “ in safe areas.”  It just depends on what your average illumination is.   And I would tend to agree that their average illumination is pretty much off the planet.”

Chris Robinson said he’s a layman, but it seems like the lighting could be cut in half, and there would still be enough for safety purposes.   He said hopefully, they can work out a solution with Woodward.     

“For a company that wants to be well-accepted in the community, and has a great track record of being a good corporate citizen, which I think is true, they cannot be immune to the brightness of what they’ve created.   I mean, unless they’re blind, which they’re not, they’ve got to understand—And I have no idea whether every last one of those lights needs to be there in order to create a safe environment.     I’m not talking about hours of operation.  It seems to me that it’s excessive.”

Assistant County Manager Janna Young, who is impacted as a Jeremy Ranch resident, said it looks like the facility is shutting off its lights at 8 p.m., though it’s allowed to go until 10.

Deputy County Attorney Dave Thomas said that Woodward’s CUP doesn’t allow the Council to give it a regular review.

Thomas was also asked about upgrading the county’s Dark Skies laws.   But he said that a new law cannot be applied, retroactively, to Woodward.

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