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May 10, 2023

Public Hearing on New Lighting Standards

glow of night lighting from a town on the Connecticut River


The Connecticut River Gateway Commission will hold a Public Hearing on the adoption of proposed standards regarding lighting. Interested parties may appear and be heard and written communications received.



Date: May 25, 2023

TIME: 7:00 pm

RiverCOG Conference Room,
145 Dennison Road
Essex, CT 06426

or Online via Zoom 

Meeting ID: 898 1214 0766
Passcode: 324250

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Meeting ID: 898 1214 0766
Passcode: 324250


Light Pollution Definition and Review Criteria

Section II – Definitions:

Light Pollution. 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 up-lighting 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.


Section II, J(3) Review Criteria for Special Permit and Site Plan Applications

  1. Proposed site development shall maintain the essential natural characteristics of the site, such as major landforms, natural vegetative and wildlife communities, hydrologic features, scenic qualities and open space that contributes to a sense of place.
  2. Structures shall be adapted to the existing terrain, rather than altering the earth form to create a platformed development site.
  3. Structures located above the crest of hillsides facing the River shall be held back from the crest of the hill to maintain a clear sense of the hillside brow in its natural condition.
  4. Vertical architecture elements shall not be over emphasized in a manner which disrupts the natural silhouette of the hillside. Structures shall be designed so that the slope angle of the roof pitch is generally at or below the angle of the natural hillside or manufactured slope.
  5. Building forms shall be scaled to the particular environmental setting to avoid excessively massive forms that fail to enhance the hillside character. Massing of structural elements such as large roof areas shall be broken up to approximate natural slopes.
  6. Roof lines shall relate to the slope and topography. Rooftop treatment shall be designed to avoid monotony of materials, forms and colors. Dark colored roof treatments, which reduce visual impact of the structure on the landscape, are preferred.
  7. Site design shall preserve the existing natural landscape where possible and include new landscaping which is compatible with existing natural vegetation, the scenic character of the area, and increases visual buffering between the building and the River or its tributaries within the Gateway Conservation Zone.
  8. Development shall be located so as to minimize disturbance of sensitive areas. The smallest practical area of land should be exposed at any one time during development and the length of exposure should be kept to the shortest practical time. Disturbed areas shall be replanted with trees, shrubs and ground cover which are compatible with existing vegetation.
  9. Site grading shall avoid straight and unnatural slope faces. Cut and fill slopes shall have curved configurations to reflect as closely as possible the forms and shapes of surrounding topography. At intersections of manufactured and natural slopes, abrupt angular intersections should be avoided and contours should be curved to blend with the natural slope.
  10. Within the Gateway 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.


Download the above information as a PDF.

Visit our Commission Meetings page for the public hearing schedule.


New Standard Addresses Light Pollution

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