Green Valley News & Sun

Serving the following Southern Arizona Communities:

Green Valley, Sahuarita, Corona de Tucson, Amado, Arivaca, Tumacacori, Tubac and Rio Rico.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004.


Council OKs Wal-Mart lighting
Plan calls for 25 percent increase over code





SAHUARITA--The Town Council on Monday granted a code modification to developers of the Madera Marketplace shopping center that allows outdoor lighting at 25 percent above the town code.

The modification will allow the developers, Wal-Mart, Diamond Ventures and Evergreen Devco of Phoenix, to use 60,000 lumens per acre, up from the 48,000 allowed by code. A lumen is a measure of light emitted from a fixture.

The vote was 6-1, with council member Joe Taylor voting no.

The developers in recent months insisted they could not provide for safety without using at least 108,000 lumens per acre. After using several designers who lacked experience in meeting outdoor lighting regulations, the developers hired a
Tucson lighting designer with experience in lighting regulations, then proposed the 60,000 lumen level.

Madera Marketplace, northeast of the Bashas'/Wal-Mart plaza, is the first proposed under the 48,000 lumen per acre limit. The town council in May raised its limit from 25,000 lumens per acre, keeping pace with
Pima County limits for the area within 25 miles of the Smithsonian Institution's Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Amado.

The 60,000 figure was supported by the observatory and
Tucson lighting designer Hy Kaplan, who chairs a city/county outdoor lighting task force. Whipple and Kaplan had opposed higher lighting levels.

Support for new plan

Whipple officials Dan Brocious and Gene Gardner told the council they supported the plan submitted by Tucson lighting designer Sarah Jewett of Electrical Design Associates because it complies with the safety recommendations of a national lighting engineering association and because there were some particular needs on this property that justified a modification.

Those needs include providing light on an irregularly-shaped property, providing light for safety for two automatic teller machines (ATMs); a drive-through prescription operation at a Walgreen's drug store, and a 24-hour-a-day operation at a planned
Wal-Mart SuperCenter, Brocious said.

Brocious termed the plan a "decent" one, but said he'd prefer 48,000 lumens per acre or zero.

Evergreen Chief Operating Officer Gregg Alpert said, "We believe it respects the observatory, the environment, public safety and the town's intent in its lighting code. We believe this plan ... is responsive to the comments we have received. It's needed to comply with the nationally recommended standards of the IESNA (Illuminating Engineers Society of North America) and represents some of the highest-quality lighting design of any in area, and probably in the state.

Flagstaff, I toured the locations cited in a newspaper article and saw nothing like the one we have. It will be functional, and my kids and maybe my grandkids will be able to see the Milky Way" when they visit the area, Alpert said.

Lighting limits

Whipple officials had argued against the 108,000 lumen per acre limit, saying it would jeopardize astronomical research. Kaplan had argued that developers wanted extra lighting for advertising. The town, county and other local jurisdictions have outdoor lighting limits in areas around Whipple and other observatories.

Taylor said he voted no because he has heard from many constituents who asked why the town didn't require at least one development under the new lighting code before granting a modification.

Kaplan said the process of developing the 60,000 lumen per acre limit educated him about some flaws in the 48,000 lumen per acre limit that have to do with irregular parcels and lighting around ATMs.

Kaplan said the task force meets today and he will discuss the possibility of increasing the task force's recommended limits from the current 48,000 lumens per acre.

Council members thanked the developers, Whipple and Kaplan for continuing to negotiate until the 60,000 lumen plan was designed and thanked residents who turned out to numerous meetings of the council and the town Planning and Zoning Committee, including members of the La Joya Verde homeowners association.

Stores will live with plan

Alpert said that some of the tenants, including Wal-Mart and Walgreen's, had been informed of the 60,000 lumen per acre design, but said not all tenants had been informed.

Alpert said, "They are comfortable with this plan. I should not say comfortable, they will live with this plan."

Council member Gordon Van Camp asked whether tenants were aware that the Walgreen's drug store at
Continental Road and La Canada Drive has an outdoor lighting level of 373,000 lumens per acre, saying "if you want to see the brightest place in Green Valley, see that."

Alpert said "Walgreen's is aware. Evergreen built it for them. That (lighting level) is not unusual in a place where there are no lighting restrictions. It was built before
Pima County had (current) restrictions." l 625-5511 x 28

2004 Green Valley News & Sun