Gumwood Road & Retail Developments

Two new retail developments along Gumwood Rd. in northern St. Joseph County, IN, as well as changes to Gumwood Rd. itself will likely impact the local night sky!  Below are: 

  • Early returns that hint at the direction of the lighting plan and priorities.
  • Excerpts from a presentation made to developers and nearby homeowners;
  • Comments at a public forum regarding the retail development;
  • Initial measurements of the existing sky glow above the adjacent neighborhood.
  • Sorry Starry Night student project that suggests the increase in sky glow.

Early Returns...

Heritage Square

gumwood03493.JPG (31071 bytes) gumwood09079.JPG (29817 bytes)gumwood03218.JPG (29906 bytes) gumwood09080.JPG (47869 bytes) gumwood03486.JPG (25110 bytes) gumwood03502.JPG (36743 bytes) gumwood03499.JPG (22798 bytes) gumwood09082.JPG (38041 bytes) gumwood09078.JPG (30138 bytes) gumwood09083.JPG (19117 bytes) gumwood03501.JPG (29312 bytes) gumwood09081.JPG (28427 bytes) gumwood03490.JPG (24392 bytes) gumwood03487.JPG (20849 bytes)        Heritage Square

 gumwood07781.JPG (18003 bytes) DSC07782.JPG (18849 bytes) DSC07783.JPG (22588 bytes) gumwood07787.JPG (48483 bytes) toscana07797.JPG (23444 bytes) toscana07789.JPG (24983 bytes)  Toscana Park
(Site of 2008 Total Lunar Eclipse Celebration)


Homeowners Appeal to Developers

brendon08597.JPG (24057 bytes) The Brendon Hills Homeowners Association Board of Directors meet in April 2006 to discuss concerns about adjacent retail development.

macri08719.JPG (29385 bytes) Developer Jerry Macri discusses ways to minimize the impact of outdoor lighting at Toscana Park in April 2006.

hunt01156.JPG (22811 bytes) Developer Doug Hunt of Holladay Properties speaks at the Brendon Hills Homeowners Association annual meeting on May 9, 2006, at which lighting issues related to Heritage Square are featured.

hupp01159.JPG (22543 bytes) Larry Hupp, architect of Toscana Park, meets with the Brendon Hills Homeowners Association on May 9, 2006.

Excerpts from Presentation

Images below are excerpted from a presentation made to the Brendon Hills Park Homeowners Association in March, 2006.

A global issue, particularly in developed countries like the U.S.

Local issues and solutions.  Two developments and two road projects put a community in the crosshairs.

St. Joseph County adopts Lighting Ordinance.

Elements of County ordinance, none of which apply to Gumwood retail projects.

Contact for Gumwood Rd. (a St. Joseph County road)  issues is Ken Herzeg & Associates.

  Extent of Mishawaka lighting code--three sentences.

wallpack07670.JPG (23364 bytes) Mishawaka's tolerance of light trespass (left) and glare onto the roadway (right).

DSC08678med.JPG (16824 bytes)Fully shielded lights illuminate sidewalk effectively.

Seeking designs that merit support for lighting awards.

Public Forum Comments

Chuck Bueter's comments about lessening the impact of light pollution from development; read at Gumwood Road Forum public meeting on November 16, 2004.  (Available as MSWord document gumwood.doc.)
[Note: The developer Ron March cited below has since transferred his interest in Greentree Crossing to a new developer, Holladay Properties, which renamed it Heritage Square.]

Good evening, and thank you all for attending.  The purpose of tonight’s meeting is to gather the concerns of the community.  We all bring a personal agenda to public forums like this, and I wish to share my mine. 

Your house’s proximity to the new development and to Gumwood Road may influence your emotional commitment to the issues raised here, for the closer you are, the more you have at stake.  While we have discussed some of the issues, I wish to raise your awareness of another that affects us all.  Though subtle, the encroachment from light pollution lessens our quality of life. 

Last week were the most beautiful northern lights I’ve seen in 20 years.  Throughout the night I and my kids were privileged to see Nature’s display because there is some semblance of dark skies here.   But as our community grows, that majesty overhead is slipping away. 

When it’s cloudy out, like tonight, we have to concede defeat knowing that we won’t see the stars.  We know the clouds will eventually clear and the stars will return.  But when cavalier lighting overwhelms our local sky, there will be no return of the stars. 

With new retail comes parking lot lights and signage; with expanded roads come streetlights; next are transmission towers with those obnoxious, unrelenting white strobe lights.  It goes on and on, unchecked.  Light pollution is impinging on our natural resource overhead as much as unchecked growth will impinge on any other natural resource. 

I am not seeking to stifle growth.  That would not be fair to property owners, businesses and churches, taxpayers, and residents seeking amenities.  I am asking that we work together to lessen the impact of that growth.

To their credit, Ken Prince and the City of Mishawaka have already addressed lighting issues to some extent at Greentree Crossing, and the developer Ron March told me he will be putting in shorter, shielded lighting in the parking lot.  That is a fine start, and I thank Ken Prince for advocating it.  But please do not check it off a list as a bone thrown to pacify a few squeaky wheels. 

A little course correction now will yield significant rewards in the future, and it can be a win-win situation.  Well-planned lighting that directs the illumination downward where it is needed is more economical, provides more safety, prevents light trespass, and lessens the impact on the night sky.

I believe the night sky is an important feature of this community.  It is a common area—one giant public easement overhead, of which we are the stewards. 

Growth is inevitable.  So, I appeal to you—you in attendance, to the developers, to future tenants, and to our government planners and representatives—I appeal to you to strive proactively to lessen the impact of development on our night sky.  Please, make low-impact lighting policy.  Make maintaining the heritage of our night sky a community priority.   

Thank you.

Existing Sky Glow

DSC08673b.JPG (18288 bytes)
Prairie Vista baseball field
06-03-19, 8:41 p.m. EST
clear skies; ave.=18.69
18.64 18.66 18.73 18.35
18.78 18.70 18.82 18.77

Note: Clear Sky Clock values are predictions of conditions, not necessarily actual conditions.  

brendon.jpg (52836 bytes) Image shows sites of meter readings within Brendon Hills Park; March 19, 2006, after 9:00 p.m. (i.e., after astronomical twilight); clear skies, no moon up yet; SQM values are in magnitudes per arcsecond squared; averages are from about 12 SQM readings per site.

Site A average = 18.65 Site D average= 18.49 Site G average= 18.56
Site B average = 18.34 Site E average = 18.39  
Site C average = 18.81 Site F average = 18.61 Brendon Hills average = 18.55

Sorry Starry Night

Sorry Starry Night student project measures sky glow above Brendon Hills Park, the neighborhood adjacent to retail development at Heritage Square. Downward slope of SQM readings (in magnitudes per square arc-second) from March to December, 2006, indicates increase in sky glow.

Copyright ©2009 Chuck Bueter.  All rights reserved.