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Changes likely coming Wednesday to Wasatch County’s dark sky rules

dark skies light up the mountains
vovan - stock.adobe.com
dark skies light up the mountains

The Wasatch County Council could adopt new rules for how brightly lights can shine into the night sky.

After more than 200 people showed up on April 5 to take part in a public hearing on proposed changes to Wasatch County’s lighting code, the county staff was asked to go back and make some tweaks to what’s being proposed.

Changes to the county’s lighting code was requested by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last November, more than a month after the Church held a groundbreaking ceremony for a temple near Heber City.

Wasatch County Manager Dustin Grabau says what’s before the council Wednesday are considerations around business lighting regulations, definitions of uplighting, and how the county is going to address code enforcement.

Regulating residential lights, including holiday lights, is not part of the county staff’s proposed plan.

‘At least the subcommittee members felt that regulating residential lighting was probably not something that our community was ready for,” said Grabau. “It comes with a lot of potential issues for neighbors that comes with potential issues for administration. And while it might end up being the most conservative approach to dark sky regulations, it's not the approach that I think the council has been leaning towards in the past.”

If the council wants to move in the direction of regulating residential lighting, Grabau says, the county would have to hold more public meetings.

While residential holiday lights won’t be regulated, the proposed code changes will apply to holiday lighting on businesses.

What’s also included in the new proposed lighting code changes includes a definition on “uplighting.” Currently, outdoor lights in Wasatch County can only point down or straight out, not point up.

Uplighting is the biggest change the Church is seeking. Grabau says the county’s new proposed rules would allow light above a light fixture if it is shielded and captured on the surface of the structure.

“Ultimately, the council subcommittee decided that the most conservative dark sky lighting standards weren't consistent with what their understanding of balancing kind of competing community interests are. So what you see in our proposal a couple of weeks ago, was what we felt adequately balanced competing interests on what the lighting is. And that's much more conservative standards than what was originally proposed, but is not among the most conservative standards that exist around the world,” said Grabau.

The Wasatch County Council meeting takes place Wednesday, April 19 at 4 p.m. at the County Administration Building. That’s at 25 North Main Street in Heber. No public comment on this issue will be held at this time.

To read the full staff report, click here.