Considerations for Developers
- For St. Joseph County, IN, see Lighting
Regulations (Article 8.08.02).
- For a list of State statutes and local lighting ordinances in the United
States, see http://home.att.net/~icole/links.html#anchor3.
- For material related to developments along Gumwood Rd. in St. Joseph
County, IN, in particular, and for all developing regions in general, see gumwood.htm.
Developers and homeowners and other affected parties gathered to share
concerns about the outdoor lighting planned for a proposed retail
- For links to manufacturers of sky-friendly fixtures, see solutions.htm.
- For considerations specific to development throughout St. Joseph County,
Indiana, see below.
St. Joseph County, Indiana, has acted to protect the night sky.
On May 10, 2005, the St. Joseph County Council adopted a new St.
Joseph County Zoning Ordinance that includes Lighting
Regulations (Article 8.08.02). In introducing the legislation, Councilman Dale DeVon stated
that, even though changes will need to be made to the new lighting ordinance,
it merited approval by the Council. Prior to the vote, comments (below)
addressed shortcomings in the proposed ordinance. The County Zoning Ordinance
had received a favorable recommendation in committee, and the final County
Council vote was 9-0 in favor of passage.
Chuck Bueter thanked supporters of the lighting ordinance at the conclusion of
the May 10th meeting:
"Thank you Councilman Dale DeVon, County Commissioner Mark Dobson,
Building Commissioner Don Fozo, Area Plan Director Bob Sante, and unknown and
unnamed persons for your roles in bringing the Lighting Ordinance to its
successful adoption tonight. Yes, it's long overdue. As Mr. DeVon
noted, you can expect that these parties and I will be proposing alterations
to this inaugural lighting legislation. Congratulations on bringing St.
Joseph County in line with modern lighting ordinances and for encouraging
efficient lighting practices and technologies. Your actions will work
toward saving energy and money (which, to your credit, is a major feature and
should be included in the ordinance's Intent); will improve safety for
motorists and pedestrians; will help preserve the heritage of our night sky;
and will improve the quality of life in St. Joseph County. When you exit
the building tonight, that bright star overhead to the south is actually the
planet Jupiter. Hopefully we'll see more of the stars in the
future. Seize the night. Carpe noctem."
Below are Chuck Bueter's comments about
lessening the impact of light pollution, with particular reference to new
developments; read at Gumwood
Road Forum public meeting on November 16, 2004.
(Available as MSWord document at 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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
- For more material related to developments along Gumwood Rd. in St. Joseph
County, IN, see gumwood.htm.
Preceding the enactment of the new lighting ordinance (see above)
in St. Joseph County, Indiana, Chuck Bueter wrote these remarks:
- A "privilege of the
floor" statement at the March 8, 2005, meeting of the St. Joseph
County Council commends the County for initiating a lighting ordinance yet
cites the need for amendments soon after the ordinance is adopted.
- A written critique of the proposed lighting ordinance
specifies point-by-point some of the concerns about the proposed draft. For
example, the Intent of the proposed ordinance cites glare and light spillover as
concerns, but it omits the third key element of light pollution--sky glow
caused from errant uplighting. The Intent also fails to recognize the
significant energy savings that lighting regulations yield. Some technical definitions do not correlate
to cut-off illustrations in the proposed ordinance. Another objection is that
Section C2 of the ordinance exempts public lights.
- A public appeal read at the Gumwood
Road Forum public meeting on November 16, 2004, advocates lessening the impact of light pollution from
- Please send your comments, improvements, and insight directly to the St.
Joseph County Council and to the Area Plan Commission. You may also write or "cc" a copy to Chuck Bueter.
Thank you for weighing in on this important legislation.