City preparing to rein in pollution of the light type |

City preparing to rein in pollution of the light type

John Colson

Aspen City Council members are worried that Aspen’s glorious night sky is being blotted out – a victim of light pollution.

And they’ve decided it is past time to do something about it.

At the council’s retreat this week, a proposed lighting ordinance did not come up until the retreat was almost over, according to Mayor John Bennett.

At that point, the council members had already identified their high-priority list of projects for the year, and were about ready to call it quits for the day.

But, Bennett said, “We decided, what the heck, there’s been a lot of work done on this, so why not just go ahead and finish it?”

So the city’s planning staff has been directed to get to work and finish the proposed ordinance, which was first undertaken about a year ago. The project was shelved when other matters took precedence, and after the City Council decided the provisions of the ordinance needed further work.

City planner Mitch Haas, who began drafting the ordinance nearly a year ago, said his first effort was “way too technical and detailed.”

Plus, he admitted, “I think it was a little too restrictive. That’s the way I like to work, throw it all in there and see what they want to cut out.”

This time around, he said, he will keep the proposed regulations shorter, less technical, and directed at the area the City Council wants addressed – the related issues of glare and light pollution from external light sources.

Currently, he said, the ordinance is only a single statement long, and basically only prohibits property owners’ lights from glaring into their neighbors’ windows or into the eyes of motorists on nearby streets.

Haas said the draft ordinance he will submit to the council will prohibit “uplighting” by floodlights or other outdoor lights, and will regulate the lighting of such things as signs, driveways and riverbanks.

He said the ordinance will be ready for the council’s review by the middle of this year, unless the council directs him to get it done sooner by setting other matters aside.

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