Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for June 11, 2018
Public hearing on lighting ordinance Tuesday, June 12
On June 12, the Kanab''s City Council will lift its gaze to the firmament as its members consider an ordinance that will protect the virtues of dark skies by governing who, when, where and what will light up the night sky in Kanab and why.
The proposed ordinance comes as southern Utah''s reputation for rich, black skies and stellar star displays are increasing in popularity. That can mean more tourists, which translates into more profits for businesses that accommodate the needs of travelers, from guided tours to star parties, rooms and restaurants.
Tuesday''s meeting is the accumulation of a two-year process first proposed by the city''s beautification committee, in cooperation with the Dark Sky Working Group. Rich Csenge, with the citizens'' working group, said the ordinance is based on recommendations from five communities with dark sky laws they studied in Texas, Arizona and Colorado. Springdale and Torrey are recognized as Dark Sky communities in Utah, with Springdale being the only city to endorse a Dark Sky law.
He said after joining forces with the beautification committee and Kanab''s Planning and Zoning Commission, a document was written that in April P&Z recommended for approval by the Kanab City Council.
The document is well balanced and flexible. New rules are primarily on commercial property and new residential projects and focus mainly on glare problems, light-tresspass and brightness of new or replacement bulbs. They hope the efforts will enhance what is already a dark sky many area residents take for granted, but is a rare commodity to urban dwellers, especially east of the Mississippi River where the last splashes of remaining dark sky are quickly drying up.
Under a sampling of provisions of the proposed law, most private property owners have little to be concerned about. There are exemptions for public rights of way. State and federal highway lighting will continue, as will lighting for safe landing and takeoff of airplanes. Lighting for monuments, statues and residential
flagpoles is also allowed. There are also temporary exemptions for theatrical and television areas and construction sites. Underwater swimming pool lights are alright, as are lights used during emergencies. During holiday season decorations will be allowed from Nov. 15 to Jan. 15.
New construction will have to comply with the new laws. For new single and multi-residential units, "... all outdoor facilities shall be fully shielded and directed so the lamp shall not be visible from adjacent property." The ordinance also limits light poles to 20 feet in heighth, and motion sensing lights calibrated to turn off 10 seconds after detected motion ceases.
Recreational lighting, like for sporting events, will also be effected. "Lighting not directly illuminating the field, court, track or range shall conform to all provisions of this ordinance," the law states.
Prohibited type of lighting by the ordinance includes new outdoor neon, searchlights and aerial lasers and mercury vapor lamps and fixtures.
Enforcement and regulation of the law will be in accordance with Section 10 of the Kanab City Nuisance Ordinance. The document has been endorsed by the Governor''s Office of Economic Development. In a letter to the Kanab City Council, signed by Managing Director Vicki Varela, it states that “about 80 percent of Americans and third of the world can''t see the Milky Way from where they live, so are increasingly willing to pay to ingest the velvety blackness arched over Utah. Starry skies are part of Utah''s brand identity, and the unique stargazing experiences under clear skies among the red rocks are a distinctive asset that helps set us apart from other destinations."
City Councilman Brent Chamberlain, a candidate for County Commission and whose seat on the present council ends with his term this year, is guardedly optimistic the ordinance will pass. He said the document will be accessible once it passes to possibly be changed to accommodate any unforeseen consequences impacting new development. “Maybe the city could suggest ways to offset the cost," he added.
Chamberlain said the first public hearing on the ordinance brought residents for and against the law together in acrimonious debate that quickly settled into a more level-headed discussion.
Kanab resident Tom Daniel thinks the whole "stargazer" fad is a bunch of baloney that will hit city residents and businesses in their wallets. "Would the dedicated "Dark Skies" advocates in Kanab and Kane County be willing to pay out-of-pocket-expenses to those businesses and residents who are NOT interested in nightly "stargazing"? Tom wrote in a letter to this newspaper.