Planners approve dark sky plan
by Carter Pape
The Times-Independent
Jan 10, 2019 | 646 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Grand County Planning Commission voted Tuesday evening to recommend passage of new outdoor lighting and sign illumination standards that, if passed by the Grand County Council next week, could significantly reduce local light pollution.

The proposed rules could put Moab on a path toward certification as a top community in the world for limiting light pollution, as designated by the International Dark-Sky Association, a non profit working to “promote environmentally responsible outdoor lighting.”

According to Community and Economic Development Director Zacharia Levine, officials from Arches National Park, which lies completely within Grand County, have expressed interest in gaining the designation of a “Dark Sky Park” from the IDA, and the new lighting rules would bolster the park’s application.

Should the park receive the designation, it would join Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and other nearby parks and monuments in receiving official recognition as a prime destination for night sky viewing.

County Planning Commissioner Cricket Green cast the lone vote against recommendation of the proposed ordinance. She also voted against amendments proposed by the commission to change a key section of the ordinance limiting the overall amount of outdoor lighting a property owner can use, citing her trust that the original proposal, which was created by the county planning staff, was optimal.

The original regulation would have limited overall outdoor lighting on a piece of land as a ratio of the total area of the parcel. Under these rules, for example, a two-acre property would be allowed twice the outdoor lighting permitted of a one-acre property.

Members of the planning commission expressed concerns that property owners around the county could abuse this cap on outdoor lighting if they owned a multi-acre parcel of land but only developed on part of it.

To address this concern, the council approved by a mixed vote to change the language of the proposed ordinance to calculate the cap on total light output per commercial property based on the size of the land on the parcel that is “developed” rather than merely owned.

The council also approved an amendment to the proposed ordinance regarding residential properties to allow a maximum total outdoor lighting output for parcels over one-half acre in size and a smaller cap for parcels smaller than one-half acre.

On another note, it’s clear that a former proposed high-density housing overlay zone will be back for discussion and perhaps approval. Levine told commission members that the proposed zone that went before the county council in December would not be scrapped, but rather, discussed in an upcoming county council workshop and eventually voted on by the council. “It seems like it will come back for a vote,” Levine told commissioners.

As previously reported by The Times-Independent, the HDH overlay has been over two years in the making and is an effort to incentivize more affordable housing developments in Moab. A county council workshop on Jan. 15 will give members an opportunity to discuss their thoughts on the proposed HDH overlay ordinance.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.