Teton County Wyoming

Planning & Development

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Updated Building Permit Addresses Effort to Reduce Light Pollution

Released : December 05, 2016
Updated Building Permit Addresses Effort to Reduce Light Pollution

Contact: Cindy Harger, Public Information Specialist
Phone: (307) 732-5786
Email: charger@tetonwyo.org

 

This past summer, the Jackson Town Council and the Teton County Board of Commissioners moved to take measures to better protect the area’s dark and starry night skies by adopting an amendment to the Land Development Regulations and thus updating exterior lighting standards.

 

The amendment was put forward by a local non-profit group, Wyoming Stargazing, and serves to better align local regulations with the 2012 Comprehensive Plan’s vision to reduce light pollution and protect nighttime skies. These new regulations have now been incorporated into Town and County building permit applications. Applicants submitting building permits can expect to include information on exterior lighting with the permit submittal.

 

“The new building permits do an excellent job of clarifying exterior lighting standards which make it much easier to understand and much easier to comply,” said Dr. Samuel Singer, Executive Director of Wyoming Stargazing. “These standards will help people save money on electricity bills while protecting the night sky. It’s a huge win-win for the community.”

 

The Town Council and Board of County Commissions adopted several key changes with approval of the Exterior Lighting Amendment. First, the new regulations measure maximum illumination using “lumens,” a metric commonly found on lighting packaging. The old regulations measured maximum illumination on a site using footcandles, a metric that required the use of a light meter and was difficult for the general public to understand.

 

Secondly, the updated regulations established limits to how much illumination on a property is permitted. There are now maximum illumination limits per square foot of site development including areas covered by buildings, paved or gravel surfaces, decks, and walkways on a property.

 

The new regulations will also require that all exterior lights have a correlated color temperature below 3000 Kelvin. Correlated color temperature, also known as light color, has impacts on public health, especially sleep patterns, a fact supported by the American Medical Association who released a report in June of last year urging local communities to cease installing street lights with a correlated color temperature over 3000 Kelvin.

 

Finally, the new regulations now require commercial properties to incorporate the use of timers or automatic dimmers to reduce lighting by midnight.

 

“We are excited to see better lighting design throughout the community that will not only serve to protect views of nighttime skies, but also improve public safety and enhance the natural environment,” said Tyler Sinclair, Planning and Building Director.

 

Concerned that all of this talk of changes to exterior lighting requirements will affect your holiday season decoration plans? Not to worry, the Exterior Lighting Amendment left holiday lighting regulations alone. You can still bedeck your home and yard with strands of lights throughout the holiday season.

 

For more information about the new Exterior Lighting regulations please contact Regan Kohlhardt, Jackson / Teton County Associate Long-Range Planner, at 733-0440 ext. 1306 or rkohlhardt@townofjackson.com.
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