Is light pollution a concern in Delta? It's an issue raised by Jeanne Dewsnup, owner of the Tru Vu Drive In. Before her death in April, she shared concerns about light pollution from neighboring businesses and Highway 92 traffic.
"Just like at indoor theatres, light can be distracting and disrupting," she told council members earlier this spring.
The issue was raised again at a city council work session on May 7. City manager David Torgler said many communities are taking steps to preserve the night sky by adopting building regulations that require downward facing fixtures or limit the light that can spill onto a neighbor's property.
Council members had mixed feelings about whether this issue should be a priority or not. Dewsnup's major concern was the headlights from passing cars on Highway 92, and there's nothing the city can do to mitigate that problem.
While light pollution is not a huge concern at present, council member Kevin Carlson said that could change if development picks up along the highway corridor. "We need to be more forward looking," he said. "We need to be proactive rather than reactive."
Any new regulations would address only new development, not existing lighting, although the city has embarked on a multi-year project to change out existing streetlights. Installing downward facing LED streetlights will pay for itself in energy savings, Torgler pointed out.
Mayor Ron Austin was glad to hear that project is underway. "It would be hypocritical for us to adopt regulations if we're non-compliant," he said.
Council member Gerald Roberts commented on a streetlight a block away that lights up his house at night. "I hope that's one of the streetlights that's changed out soon," he said.
Torgler provided council members with a packet of information about outdoor lighting regulations in neighboring communities. "The codes adopted by municipalities in Colorado and available
exterior lighting hardware demonstrate that excellent lighting can be installed without adversely impacting neighbors," he noted in a memo accompanying the packet of information. "Unfortunately exterior lights last a long time and without regulations the negative impacts of exterior lights will continue to grow."
Council members did not take time to closely review the material at the May 7 work session, but a majority agreed the matter should be pursued. They expressed a desire to keep regulations simple, and were glad to hear that it's unlikely there will be any financial impact on new development.