Summit County’s planning staff recently started a discussion with the Snyderville Planning Commission about new lighting standards for the Basin Code that would be more compliant with up to date technology.
But Development Director Pat Putt said this doesn’t mean they’re becoming the light bulb police.
Putt said the Snyderville Code’s current lighting ordinance is about a dozen years old, and there are a couple of reasons to update it.
“There’s an ongoing concern with lighting and illumination. Our code we have right now isn’t a bad code. It’s just terribly dated because the lighting technology has changed so much and so drastically over the years. We do a good job of down-lighting. It’s a fairly good dark skies ordinance and if you really want to test that go up on 248 just above Tuehaye and look down over the valley. You’re going to see a lot of the downward directed light and not a lot of up spill. Our problem is in a number of areas it’s light trespass, it’s the type of illumination, it’s the intensity of the illumination. It doesn’t meet the technology that’s out there, so we want to better define that.”
He said he stirred some reaction from Snyderville Commissioners when he talked about revamping the light standards.
“Should it be a policy that over time lights that don’t comply with the ordinance, should they be made to be removed. That’s going to be a policy discussion that the planning commission is going to need to weigh-in on and ultimately a decision that council will have to decide on. We promised the council, on the backheels of some public criticism of some lighting projects along 224 a few years ago that we were going to come back and take an aggressive, rigorous look at this ordinance to see if we can make it better. We understand we want safety. We want to make sure that we have adequate security those are fundamental, but we promised we would come back with something that was much more comprehensive.
Putt said it’s valid to set some deadline for lighting to achieve compliance, but they’re not going too far.
“Does it mean we’re going to be the light bulb police? No, not going to be a lightbulb police program. In most, if not all cases, if you change a fixture on the outside of your single-family residence, you don’t need a building permit, you don’t need an electrical permit to do that. I think that over the long term, with as much redevelopment that’s going on in the community, we’re going to be able to address these things upfront proactively as part of a building permit for an addition or a remodel. If we run into situations where there are just flagrant nuisances of light trespass, we have the ability to enforce on that.”
He said that a new ordinance isn’t the whole answer, they also have to educate the citizens.
“I think it’s part and parcel with some of the sustainability program that we’re trying to implement. I don’t see this as being radically different than—If someone goes to the tap to get a glass of water, they don’t fill up their glass and then leave the water running right? It’s the same thing with lighting. I think we can do a better job of explaining to people that we can help them save money, we can help them make that incremental dent in our energy use as a community, we can preserve our dark skies. I think that’s what we’re trying to achieve with this particular ordinance.”