San Juan pledges dark skies code

The chair of the San Juan Planning Commission promised during a meeting Wednesday, April 3 to pass a dark skies ordinance for Spanish Valley after many residents contacted commissioners and planning staff following the commission’s previous vote to not recommend such an ordinance.

“I will make a commitment to all of you here that we will create our own dark skies ordinance,” Chair Trent Schafer said to a room full of residents from of Grand and San Juan counties. “It seems that that is a gigantic level of importance.”

“We will push it through,” Schafer later said of the ordinance.

Schafer said at the meeting, held in Spanish Valley at the Grand County Water & Sewer Service building, that the reason the planning commission had originally voted down the dark skies ordinance created by Landmark Design was that they felt it was too much regulation.

“Our thought at the time when we chose not to move that ordinance through was, ‘here’s more regulations, more regulations,'” Schafer said.

Landmark Design was originally hired by San Juan County to redo the county’s planning and zoning policies, with particular attention to Spanish Valley. Among the proposals that the firm later presented to the San Juan Planning Commission was the dark skies ordinance that the commission voted down.

Schafer said the commission would reconsider that ordinance, which he said is “very stringent” and would thus appease residents’ desires to limit light pollution.

Schafer later added that community feedback on the matter made it clear to him and other commission members that mitigating light pollution was of great importance to Spanish Valley residents, which was why, he said, he wanted to bring the matter back up for discussion.

When a resident asked whether the Love’s truck stop, plans for which officials said were imminent, would be regulated under the ordinance, Schafer said, “We’ll have it [a dark skies ordinance] through before Love’s goes in.”