Thursday, September 2, 2004

Town acted wisely in lighting decision





Congratulations, bravo and all manner of kudos, to the Sahuarita Town Council for its wise decision to stick with Pima County's lighting code and not buckle to powerful pressures to exceed the code for a new Wal-Mart SuperCenter.

Congratulations also to the residents who spoke at the Monday, Aug. 23, Town Council meeting in support of dark skies.

The town's Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council deserve the thanks of area residents and the staff of the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory for voting to honor the long-standing tradition of dark skies and to acknowledge the scientific and economic importance of astronomy to Southern Arizona, specifically the Whipple Observatory and the world-class research being conducted there.

After hearing several residents speak in favor of retaining the dark skies the area is known for, the Town Council voted to grant Wal-Mart and Diamond Ventures a continuance they sought so that they can work out the details to comply with the town lighting code, rather than exceed it.

The reversal by the developers was a welcome sign. We don't blame them for trying to get brighter lights and more advertising impact, but we give them credit for recognizing that the town's P&Z, Whipple Observatory and area residents had an irrefutable point, that the lighting levels they originally proposed could impair astronomical research done at the observatory.

Michael Racy, a lobbyist for the developers said the developers would bring in a design to the Sept. 13 council meeting which would bring the light level down to the one specified in the town code, approximately 48,000 lumens per acre.

Whipple spokesman Dan Brocious spoke at the Monday, Aug. 23, council meeting, noting that he supported the continuance because he thought that, with the help of a lighting designers, the developers could meet the code and also set a healthy precedent for development planned for the rest of the area.

We agree. This was an issue that should serve as an example of the constructive role concerned citizens and major stakeholders in the area can play in guiding future growth and development to protect the natural assets that make this area such a desirable place to live.










2004 Green Valley News & Sun