Following months of discussion and public hearings, the Nibley City Council voted last week to adopt new lighting standards to address light pollution.
“We have been talking about this for several years,” said Nibley City Manager David Zook. “It has always been on our to-do list as something we wanted to explore.”
The City Council decided not to adopt a provision that would require homes in Nibley to adhere to the new standards. Instead, the ordinance only applies to new and upcoming developments and projects.
“While we are not requiring residents to comply, we are planning to do some education campaigns through the summer and urge people to voluntarily comply and use dark-sky compliant lighting options,” Zook said.
Zook said discussion actually started years ago when a commercial development moved into the city and some nearby neighbors talked about the light pollution that followed. However, Zook said it was when the city purchased Firefly Park that they really started researching options to cut down light pollution.
Firefly Park is one of the few public places you can find fireflies in the Western United States.
“One of the things we were told by experts was that light pollution can be harmful to fireflies and their ability to reproduce,” Zook said. “We would notice in the summer as we would visit the park, the encroaching developments and distinguishable light pollution.”
According to the Nibley City website page, light pollution is defined as the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light, which can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife and the climate.
“The other reason we made this change is to maintain the look and feel of our community,” Zook said. “One of the things people really like about Nibley is that it still feels like a small town, still feels rural. Part of what makes a place feel like you are still far from a big city is when you look up at the sky and can see stars. We want to preserve that experience.”
Zook said that while drafting this ordinance, they worked closely with Cache Valley Astronomical Society to understand the impact of light, Rocky Mountain Power to discuss streetlights, and other rural Utah communities, drawing ideas from similar ordinances.
The ordinance outlines the different styles of lighting that will no longer be permitted in new developments, including unshielded luminaires, a luminaire being a complete lighting unit consisting of a light source such as a lamp or lamps. All outdoor luminaires must have the light source downcast and fully shielded from view.
There are some exceptions such as for holiday lighting, events or activities, emergency exits and others, which are outlined in the ordinance which can be found at nibleycity.com.