At their Tuesday evening meeting, the Heber City planning commission unanimously voted in favor of regulating lighted signage within the city.
The discussion came as a request from Heber City Council and focused on bringing the city into compliance with dark sky initiatives. The International Dark Sky Association has outlined light zones that range from a zero rating, which would represent wilderness, to a four, which would be equivalent to New York City.
City planner Jamie Baron recommended that the city aim for level one.
“We are a rural area, even though we are obviously seeing more demand on growth,” Baron said. “One of the things we heard from the Envision Heber process is, how do we preserve that rural feel while we grow? This is one issue that the council has looked at and this is the way we preserve that rural feel. So that L1 (level one) is what we based the lighting recommendations off of.”
The city has not previously had any regulations on the amount of light output from signs, so city staff proposed an update to city code. Key components to the update include code requirements regarding shielding of light fixtures, prompt repair of exposed signs, and a curfew of 11:00 p.m. or 30 minutes after the business closes. All requirements are to be certified by an independent contractor.
The item was part of a public hearing, but no public comment was given. Planning commissioners debated whether to continue the item in order to allow input from sign companies, but ultimately decided to move forward with the dark sky ordinance.
“We get something in place and then somebody doesn’t like it, so they come back and then we bring it back up and we debate it again for three months and then we put it in place and then the next sign doesn’t work,” commissioner Dennis Gunn said. “I think as long as it meets dark sky compliance—the biggest concern that I’ve heard tends to always comes back to the fact that they can be way too bright, which is not a joke, they can be. And then of course the moving and all that stuff, the noise. Some people are just annoyed that anything exists.”