‘An atrocious betrayal’ by Grand County officials


Thank you for following up on the high-density projects soon to rain down upon our community by the Grand County Planning Commission. The creation of the high-density development of more than 500 homes on Spanish Valley Drive and the Viewgate Terrace area is an atrocious betrayal to the quality of life residents and homeowners currently experience in Grand County.

Upon looking over the plans for these developments, we did not see any requirements for low-impact lighting on our dark sky neighborhood. We can see the Milky Way always on clear evenings, and we cherish our dark skies and stars. Only 10 percent of Americans get to enjoy the Milky Way and we sought out and pay our taxes for this pristine opportunity to see the stars from our home in Spanish Valley.

The importance of dark skies is being exemplified by the designation of Arches as an International Dark Sky Park. We are asking for community support, to insist that the council require new developments in Grand County, Viewgate Terrace and the Arroyo Crossing Housing Development to support dark skies in its building plans.

By using new modern LED lighting technology, which is a more efficient use of energy, the lights can be adjusted to provide only the level of illumination needed. Also, it offers a high degree of control over the direction in which the light is emitted. This reduces glare, light trespass, and uplight, which contributes to sky glow, which reduces the ability to view stars. We ask that this would be applicable to street and exterior residential lighting, with shielded lights also in place.

We can maintain our dark skies view with forethought and consideration to the planning now. Establishing that dark skies are worth preserving is a very necessary endeavor and would show good faith and respect on behalf of our council members and planners towards the community and to what has made living in Moab exceptional.

We are also asking that a sound barrier be put on the east side of the development to shield the residents from the noise of building construction and high-density car use and traffic noise.

It is the responsibility of our officials, Grand County Council, Zacharia Levine, and the planning commission to support and protect the already existing community, and to make a fulfilled and executed effort to maintain privacy for this area from light pollution and noise pollution.

We are reaching out to the whole community of Moab and Grand County to please help us, by writing to the Grand County Council and city planners and ask them to protect our dark skies, and low noise impact. We need to establish a standard of development and living in our county that will continue to embrace and create healthy living space for all of us.

I have become aware that a dark sky ordinance was passed by the Grand County Council. I asked [Council Member} Mary MaGann to forward me a copy of the ordinance and have not yet received it. I looked on the Grand County website and could not find it. Let’s make sure it is available for all citizens to read, hold ourselves accountable and hold our elected and paid staff accountable for following through with this ordinance.”

– Charlene Love Nicholson and Peter Nicholson

Editor’s note: The writers of this letter were made aware that Grand County updated its outdoor lighting ordinance in 2019. The City of Moab is considering one. They asked that their letter be published so others might be made aware of it.