Breckenridge nixes year-round holiday lights |

Breckenridge nixes year-round holiday lights

Robert Allen
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Summit Daily fileThe Hearthstone restaurant in Breckenridge is known for its colorful holiday lights. Under new rules in town, such lights would be restricted to the winter season.

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – The Breckenridge Town Council decided Tuesday not to allow holiday lights year-round in the downtown area as part of its updated lighting policy.

“There is something special about it being more seasonal,” Councilwoman Jennifer McAtamney said Wednesday.

The council voted in a previous meeting to allow downtown residences and businesses to string holiday lights along the outlines of structures and in trees all year.

On Tuesday, Councilman and downtown restaurant owner Eric Mamula said community members told him they’d prefer holiday lights be seasonal. Concerns with possible maintenance issues, energy use and seasonal lighting traditions persuaded council members to change the ordinance before final vote.

Councilman Mark Burke, also a downtown restaurant owner, was against the change.

“I really feel it would have been an advantage to businesses,” he said. “It would have made the town look more festive in the summer.”

He said that while he respects concerns about the lights’ energy use and objections to bright lights downtown, there could have been a compromise.

Mamula said the lights wouldn’t make much difference for businesses in the summer.

“You can’t really see (the lights) for the majority of your day in the summer, because it doesn’t get dark until 9 o’clock,” he said.

McAtamney said the policy certainly isn’t set in stone.

“If a lot of people want decorative lights year-round, I think we’d be happy to hear about it,” she said. “With us, policies evolve.”

Tuesday’s ordinance also requires all decorative lights (holiday and otherwise) and “bistro (used for ambiance or light in outdoor bar or dining areas) lights” be LED by May 2012, according to the revised ordinance.

The requirement is intended to promote energy efficiency. The lights are prohibited from blinking all at once, flashing, rotating or creating hazards from glare.

Lasers, searchlights and unshielded fixtures or lamps are to remain prohibited.

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