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January 6, 2023

New Standard Addresses Light Pollution

moon over river

Excessive night lighting has been shown to affect our health and dramatically harm nature, and have a devastating effect on wildlife, especially on birds.

Light pollution is an increasingly important issue as night skies over the Connecticut River and tributaries/coves are becoming more and more obscured by excessive exterior and interior lighting. New housing proposals increasingly include powerful outdoor lights to feature homes at night. Excessive lights are aimed to illuminate the night river or to uplight trees along the river’s shore.

The Connecticut River Gateway Commission is asking the eight towns in the Zone to update its regulations and, in the process, to include a new standard concerning light pollution. This proposal reads as follows:

Excessive, misdirected, or obtrusive light from artificial sources emanating from a site shone into the sky, onto the land or into the water column of the Connecticut River and its tributaries, including but not limited to site and architectural lighting, lighting on private residential docks, and uplighting of trees or other site features, which may result in: brightening of the night sky, inhibiting the observation of stars and planets; light trespass onto neighboring properties including the Connecticut River; visual glare and discomfort; or significant disruptions to wildlife and ecological cycles.

Within the Conservation Zone, lighting of properties, including site lighting and the illumination of building facades and other architectural features, shall be the minimum necessary for health and safety.

The purpose of this standard is to minimize the amount of artificial lighting emanating from Conservation Zone properties in a way that may contribute to Light Pollution.

As a first step to the standard becoming effective, Gateway Commission staff and representatives will meet with local officials. After receiving comments from the eight-member town Planning & Zoning Commissions and making any revisions, a public hearing will be scheduled.

Visit this page for information on the public hearing schedule.

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