Stonington planner raises issue of dark sky regulation; hosts discussion

Stonington planner raises issue of dark sky regulation; hosts discussion

The Westerly Sun

STONINGTON — In an effort to share various ideas and concepts with residents, the planning department is bringing the International Dark-Sky Association to host a community forum Monday about light pollution and effects on the environment.

During the event, which will take place at La Grua Center from 6 to 7 p.m., Northeast Regional Director Leo Smith will discuss how to manage light pollution and how various light fixtures can help in the effort.

Planning Director Jason Vincent said that he was first exposed to the idea of dark skies when he worked in Branford, which eventually adopted a dark sky provision in its zoning code.

The only town in the region with a dark sky regulation is Charlestown, which passed an ordinance in 2012 that requires all outdoor light fixtures to be dark-sky compliant.

“There are very few places in this country where there is access to the night sky and you can view the sky unrestricted,” he said. “It’s a pretty nice luxury. The only difference between having it and not having it is managing light pollution.”

Not only would managing light pollution save money but it could have a positive environmental impact as it would allow people to see the night sky and wouldn’t bother wildlife, Vincent said.

Stonington has had some level of dark sky thinking for decades and it’s been brought up at various meetings but it’s something that’s never been instituted as a formal policy. The event will help educate people on why and how light pollution exists and how it can be managed.

“These community planning forums are a way to expose the community to various ideas and see if these are things residents are interested in,” Vincent said. “We’ve heard people advocate for LED lights and full cutoff lights in town, so we just want to see what some of the benefits and burdens might be for implementing something like this.”


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