City considers new rules for lights

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Planning Commission is developing a new ordinance to control lighting in residential areas.

“The issue came up in the community when some people were concerned about their neighbors’ lights coming onto their property,” said Laura Westmeyer, planning assistant.

The proposal will be almost entirely new, although the city does have regulations governing lighting in commercial and industrial zones for new developments.

Right now, the city has no ordinances preventing residents from shining lights onto their neighbors, Westmeyer said. Residents are complaining about intense lights shining on their homes at late hours.

The Planning Commission has met twice to begin developing a proposed ordinance, and it will meet again on June 4 to continue.

The first meeting was used to get up to speed on how other jurisdictions handle lighting in residential areas, Westmeyer said. At the second meeting, the commission looked at a preliminary draft.

“We looked at definitions, which can be tricky,” Westmeyer said. The commissioners have looked at everything from cutoffs to the angle of light and the plane of the fixture.

They’ve also looked at how to measure the light, she said. Watts don’t work because light intensity is different with different types of light sources.

Rather, the city will use “lumens” and will add a reference to help residents relate them to various types of lighting.

The commission also looked at exceptions to the rules, Westmeyer said. Some residents have U.S. flags, which etiquette requires to be lighted at night.

Others use lights for safety purposes. Churches, schools, events and athletic fields will probably be excepted from the ordinance.

The ordinance also will not address street lights, Westmeyer said.

Westmeyer expects to have a draft ready this week for Planning Commission review this coming Monday, June 4. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in the City Hall Annex in the council chamber.

After that, the Planning Commission will return to the proposed ordinance in August, said Community Development Director Carol Lewis.

She expects that the ordinance may be in front of the City Council for final approval possibly by the end of the year, Lewis said. The Planning Commission will need to hold a public hearing. Then the ordinance will move to the council for a public hearing, and after three readings of the ordinance, the council can adopt the ordinance.