Southern Utah News Articles
Kanab City Council passes Dark Sky Ordinance
The Kanab City Council on Tuesday night voted in favor of an ordinance to preserve the high quality of dark sky that reveals the splendors of the universe once the sun goes down.
Since the ordinance was first proposed, the devil was in the details as different versions were refined – including Tuesday’s incarnation that contained suggestions from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission – to come up with the law that was passed.
“We worked on this until 5 o’clock (Tuesday),” said Mayor Robert Houston, to a crowd of about 50 people attending the meeting, some of whom offered comments on the ordinance before the vote.
Council members Byard Kershaw, Jeff Yates and Brent Chamberlain voted for the ordinance, with Michael East offering the only dissenting vote. East’s main objection to the ordinance concerned the impact the new law might have on private residences and definitions of terms, such as,“does the term ‘lamp’ refer to a light bulb or what it is screwed into.”
When the council members discussion turned to rules concerning streetlights, the mayor said it would cost $70,000 to $90,000 to bring the lighting into compliance with the ordinance’s provisions, but the mayor said the law was consistent with what the city was planning on doing anyway by replacing old lights with new LED bulbs, that would save the city money anyway.
One provision eliminated from the ordinance concerned when holiday lighting can be displayed. Originally it was confined from Nov. 15 to Jan. 15, but Houston said that it was too restrictive as some put up such lighting as early as Halloween.
Before the council voted, some residents commented on the proposed ordinance with many emphasizing the economic benefits the law will have in drawing tourists to the area.
Richard Jacobsen, who said he moved to Kanab from the eastern U.S., said he was aware of a few major constellations, but never had experienced the whole supernal extravagance of the universe. Neither had his 82-year-old father.
“When he came to visit, he looked at the sky and said, ‘what the hell is that,’” said Jacobsen. “He had never seen the Milky Way before. That’s why I urge you to approve the ordinance.”
Donna Huntsman, a member of the Beautification Committee, who worked for two years with Kanab resident Rich Csenge to get the ordinance passed, called its approval “fantastic” and applauded the foresight of the City Council.
“It’s incredible,” Huntsman said. “It was a complex issue and the mayor and city were great partners in protecting a great experience.”
Restaurant owner Victor Cooper said the approval was a start and will help protect the stellar resource from encroachment due to inevitable development.
“It is a sign of tangible progress,” Cooper said.