North Richland Hills passes light restrictions

Posted Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Topics: City Managers

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NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- City officials are all for letting the light shine down, but they might have a problem when that light flashes, rotates or beams far into the night sky.

The City Council has approved an ordinance restricting how new lights can shine. Christmas lights and lights that are already up are exempted.

The goal is to minimize light pollution, reduce spillover from one property to another and improve the look of the city, among other benefits, senior planner Clayton Comstock said recently.

The council voted 5-0 on Jan. 14 to approve the ordinance, with council members Tito Rodriguez and David Whitson absent for health reasons. That vote followed a unanimous vote on Dec. 20 by the Planning and Zoning Commission to recommend approval.

Previously, the city's light ordinance banned the use of wooden poles to support lights, Comstock said.

The new ordinance, which took effect after the council vote, sets standards using terms unfamiliar to many residents: foot-candle, light trespass, color rendering index and acceptable measurements between 2,700 through 5,700 Kelvin.

The practical effect is that the ordinance requires new lights to have domes or covers to make them shine down rather than horizontally.

Deep, dark orange and deep, dark blue lights will be restricted, depending on their intensity, and businesses cannot install lights that beam onto neighboring properties.

No lights can be supported by concrete or wood poles because that's considered ugly. Searchlights, and flashing, pulsing and rotating lights are also banned.

Violators could face fines up to $2,000 each day the offense occurs.

The ordinance applies only to new construction, property that is improved beyond 50 percent of its value or property that is expanded by 30 percent or more from its present size. Lights for fountains and pools, strings of lights for parties and lights for theatrical performances are exempt from the ordinance.

City Councilman Tim Welch and Mayor Oscar Trevino asked questions or made comments to the effect that they did not want the ordinance to be too restrictive.

Comstock responded that if someone or a business needed to change a light bulb or two or to make other minor adjustments, the ordinance would not kick in.

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