NELPAG Circular No. 16

NELPAG Circular No. 16                                    1997 May 5

New England Light Pollution Advisory Group (NELPAG)
Editor:     Daniel W. E. Green [Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory;
               60 Garden Street; Cambridge, MA  02138]  (telephone 617-495-7440)
Secretary:  Eric Johansson     (telephone 508-667-0137)

     "Subscription" to this irregular news/information Circular is available by
sending self-addressed, stamped (32 cents in the U.S.A.) regular-sized
(9.5x4-inch) envelopes (SASE) to Dan Green at his postal address, or by
sending your e-mail address to NELPAG-REQUEST@HARVEE.BILLERICA.MA.US (Internet).
Contributed information for this Circular concerning outdoor lighting problems
in New England (or pertinent info from outside New England) are always welcome.
Please circulate this newsletter to all interested parties.  Look at our
World Wide Web site at URL


     From Ellen Schneider, the aide to Mass. Rep. Jim Marzilli, regarding
the outdoor night-lighting bill pending in the Massachusetts State Legislature:

The dark sky bill was reported out favorably from the Energy Committee's
executive session on Monday, with amendments.  The chairmen wanted to make
sure that there would be some sort of oversight body to monitor changes, and
they also made an allowance for historic/decorative needs.  For now, the bill
is on the way to House Ways & Means [another committee], where it will remain
before being reported out on the floor.  The amendments may be modified on the
floor.  I will let you know when we expect action on the bill.  For the next
few months, we are going to try to drum up support, and the best method is
having citizens across the state write in support of H.3418 to their
representatives and senators.  So thanks again for coordinating this mailing
with Sky & Telescope!  That is exactly the type of push we need to get the
dark sky bill onto the floor and passed.  []

Comments by Dan Green:
     She is referring to the fact that Kelly Beatty and Sky & Telescope
magazine have kindly produced mailing labels for all of the S&T subscribers
in the state of Massachusetts, to which we will be mailing out a 1-page
flyer describing the pending bill, asking the readers to write their state
Reps and Senators to ask their support (indeed, cosponsorship) of this bill.
Due to time constraints, I will not now be able to do any more on this until
after May 14, but perhaps that following weekend (May 16-18), I hope to round
up some volunteers here at the Observatory in Cambridge to help me stuff
envelopes and mail them out.  Three or four volunteers could probably get
the job done in a very short time, with an assembly-line process.
     The 1-sheet, two-page flyer is being compiled from information supplied
from Marzilli's office and edited by me, with approval by both Marzilli's
office and S&T prior to mailing.  I will pay for the photocopying costs, but
there are 2608 addresses to send this out to, meaning $834.56 in first-class
postage costs, plus the cost of that many envelopes which must be purchased.
So I need to ask for financial donations to help in this worthy cost.  The
more you can contribute, the better.  Please contact me directly to inquire
about how to contribute financially or as a volunteer.
     By the way, some slight changes were made to this bill that we proposed
via the Energy Committee, and which has now passed to the Ways and Means
Committee.  In Section 2, exemption number 4 is changed to say "Historic or
decorative consideration should be allowed for not converting lumninaires."
Section 2.75 was added, which says:  "The division of energy resources shall
establish and implement a system to ensure that the use of state funds for street
lighting complies with sections 2 and 2.5."  The bill was H.3418 under the
Energy Committee, but I am told that it will now get a new (higher) number in
the Ways and Means Committee.  If you contact your legislative representative
(or senator), they can find the new bill number by telling them "H.3418 in
Fiscal Year 1997".

     William S. Abbott, the attorney who pushed for the lighting ordinance in
Plymouth that was mentioned in the last two NELPAG Circulars, reports that
the bill was passed nearly unanimously on April 15.  (I erred in NELPAG Circular
No. 14 when I said that this ordinance had already passed; what had happened at
that time was that the Planning Board had approved the ordinance, passing it
along to the Town Meeting for last night's vote.)  The wording is provided
below; a section about recreational lighting was the only section deleted by
the Town Meeting.  Abbott tells me that he has given the ordinance text to the
town of Duxbury for possible action soon, and he relates that the Town of
Plymouth has been bombarded with requests by Massachusetts cities and towns who
are interested in using the Plymouth ordinance as a model for writing their own
ordinances and bylaws.  It is very interesting how these things can snowball!
  -- D.W.E.G.

1997 ANNUAL TOWN MEETING [Plymouth, Mass.]                       ARTICLE 22


Date of Publication of Public Hearing:  1997 Jan. 2, Jan. 9
Date of Public Hearing:  1997 Jan. 21, Feb. 11, Feb. 18

Vote:  On Tuesday, February 18, 1997, the Planning Board voted (3-0) to
recommend approval of the following amendment to Town Meeting [which was
approved by Town Meeting on 1997 April 15].

PROPOSED AMENDMENT:  following text is to be inserted into the Zoning Bylaw.

Section 401.26 Prevention of Light Pollution

A) Purpose and Intent.  The Purpose of this Bylaw is to create standards for
 outdoor lighting so that its use does not unreasonably interfere with the
 reasonable use and enjoyment of property within Plymouth.  It is the intent
 of this section to encourage, through the regulation of tye types, construction,
 installation, and uses of outdoor electrically powered illuminating devices,
 lighting practices, and systems that will (i) reduce light pollution, light
 trespass, and glare in order to preserve and enhance the natural, scenic, and
 aesthetic qualities of Plymouth, (ii) conserve energy and decrease lighting
 costs without decreasing nighttime safety, security, and productivity, and
 (iii) preserve the night sky as a natural resource to enhance nighttime
 enjoyment of property within Plymouth.

B) Uses.  All Municipal uses, uses in industrial and commercial districts,
 special permit uses, and signs in all districts are subject to Section 401.26
 Prevention of Light Pollution.

C) Definitions.  Except as noted hereinafter, all definitions are provided in
 the Zoning Bylaw.  Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, certain
 words and phrases used in this section shall mean the following:

"Lamp" means the component of an outdoor light fixture that produces light.
"Direct Light" means light emitted directly by a lamp, off a reflector, or
  through a refractor of an outdoor light fixture.
"Light Trespass" means direct light emitted by an outdoor lamp fixture that
  shines beyond the boundaries of the property on which the outdoor light
  fixture is installed.
"Up-light" means direct light emitted by an outdoor light fixture above a
  horizontal plane through the fixture's lowest light-emitting part.
"Shielded" when referring to an outdoor light fixture means that the fixture
  allows no up-light.
"Filtered" when referring to an outdoor light fixture means that the fixture
  is to be fitted with a glass, acrylic, or other translucent enclosure of
  the light source.

D) Shielding.  All outdoor light fixtures subject to this bylaw shall be

E) Prohibited Light Sources.
   1. Mercury-Vapor and Quartz Lamps.  For the purposes of this bylaw, quartz
        lamps shall not be considered an incandescent light source.
   2. Laser Source Light.  The use of laser-source light or any similar
        high-intensity light for outdoor advertising, when projected above
        the horizontal, is prohibited.
   3. Searchlights.  The operation of searchlights for advertising purposes
        is prohibited.

F) Metal Halide Lighting.  All outdoor light fixtures utilizing a metal-halide
 lamp or lamps shall be shielded and filtered.  Filtering using quartz glass
 does not meet this requirement.

G) Outdoor Advertising Signs.  Outdoor light fixtures used to illuminate an
 outdoor advertising sign shall be mounted on the top of the sign structure.

H) Exemptions.
   1. Fossil fuel Light.  All outdoor light fixtures producing light directly
        by the combustion of natural gas or other fossil fuels are exempt from
        all requirements of this bylaw.
   2. Other Light Sources.  All outdoor light fixtures using an incandescent
        lamp or lamps of 150 watts or less are exempt from all requirements
        of this bylaw.  All outdoor light fixtures using any lamp or lamps of
        50 total watts or less are exempt from all requirements of this bylaw.

I) Special Permit.  Alternative outdoor light fixtures may be allowed by
 special permit if it is found that:  (1) the fixture's design and appearance
 are superior, (2) significant light pollution will not be created, and (3)
 light trespass and glare are minimal.

NEED AND JUSTIFICATION:  Large residential, commercial, and industrial
 developments are major generators of light pollution.  At night, the glow of
 large parking lots can be seen from miles away.  In addition, in heavily
 lighted areas, the ability to see stars is greatly limited.  According to
 The Amicus Journal [article by Art Upgren in 1995], under ideal conditions
 the sky is crowded with 2500 visible stars.  In a moderately illuminated
 suburb, the night sky has only 200 or 300 visible stars.  In large cities,
 people are lucky if they can see more than a few dozen.  Light pollution also
 wastes energy.  The electricity used to generate the light that illuminates
 the sky or abutting undeveloped land is wasted.
     As development occurs in Plymouth, fewer and fewer stars will be visible.
 This bylaw seeks to limit light pollution by controling two types of light
 pollution (up-light pollution and trespass light pollution).  Up-light is when
 light is directed into the sky.  Up-light is wasted light since there is
 nothing in the sky to illuminate.  Up-light blocks nighttime views.  The
 second type of light pollution is known as trespass light.  Trespass light is
 light that shines beyond the boundaries of a property.  A good example of
 trespass light is the glare from a sign or parking lot that temporarily
 blinds the driver of a vehicle.

EFFECT:  The effect of this amendment is to simply require that all lights be
 shielded.  Shielding will limit glare and prevent lights from shining beyond
 the boundaries of the development.  Shielding will also limit the amount of
 light polluting the nighttime sky.  Only the brightest, least efficient type
 of light (Mercury-Vapor/Quartz light) is prohibited.  The amendment does not
 restrict the intensity of lights.
     Individual homeowners will be exempt from this bylaw.

INTENT:  The intent of this amendment is to limit the amount of light pollution
 generated by outdoor light fixtures.  It is also intended to reduce glare,
 conserve energy, decrease lighting cost, and preserve the views of the night
     This amendment will preserve and enhance the nighttime natural, scenic,
 and aesthetic qualities of Plymouth, without decreasing nighttime safety or

Revised as given above and signed by Planning Board members on 1997 March 4;
 filed with Town Clerk on 1997 March 5.  Voted into law by Town Meeting 4/15/97.

     The roadway lighting bill (House Bill 5092) passed in June 1995.  Here is
some background information.
     When introduced by Rep. Dominic Mazzoccoli (Assm. Dist. 27), it was
originally written to declare that no state funds shall be used to install or
replace existing state highway-lighting fixtures (drop-lens refractor,
cobrahead type) unless it (a) was energy efficient, (b) minimized light
pollution, glare, and light trespass, and (c) equal to or lower than the
minimum adequate illuminance for its purpose.  For a rated output of more than
1800 lumens (a 60-watt light bulb), replacement would be a full-cutoff fixture.
It also stated that the Commissioner of the Department Of Transportation
(DOT) would determine where lighting installation or replacement might instead
be achieved by alternatives such as a reduced speed limit, reflectors, or
reflectorized road markings.
     The public hearing on this bill took place early in 1995 at the state
Legislative Building in Hartford, before the Committee on Energy and
Technology.  In attendance were IDA members, Prof. Arthur Upgren, and myself,
who spoke in favor of the bill before the committee.  Two gentlemen spoke
against the bill.  The first was opposed to legislation being considered for
the special interests of astronomers.  The second speaker was DOT engineer
Donald McCall, who stated that, as determined by a computer program for
lighting design, retrofitting existing highway poles with full-cutoff fixtures
would not be possible, because it would require installing more poles at
tighter spacing to achieve uniformity, costing the state millions.  After the
dust had settled, the Committee voted in favor of the bill (Yea 13, Nay 3).
     But the bill was far from being passed.  After a lot of back-and-forth
between the DOT and the House, a compromise in some of the language had been
arrived at, and the final draft of the bill was brought into the Senate
through Senator Bill Aniskovich (after I sent him IDA information).  Bill
5092 passed both the House and the Senate in June 1995.  The key changes in
the language now state that replacement with full-cutoff fixtures will
happen on state secondary highways and special service highways (when due
for replacement).  And, for state primary highways, full-cutoff replacement
will happen only when the Commissioner of the DOT determines that the fixtures
will not compromise driver safety or increase the cost of the lighting plan
(at which point, I supplied him with much lighting information).  And, for
the special requests from individuals who really want the glare, special
waivers could be requested of the Commissioner for his review.  The Office
of Policy and Management serves as the watchdog for the cost analysis of the
replacement fixtures.
     So, here we are nearly two years later.  My personal awareness of the
effects from this legislation are as follows:  Areas of state secondary and
primary(!) highways are showing gradual retrofit replacements with full-cutoff
cobraheads.  Amost all state commuter lots for car-pooling are lit with
full-cutoff cobraheads.  Newer lighting in rest areas along some primary
highways are employing either full-cutoff fixtures or visor-type shields.
It's a hopeful beginning to a new era in roadway lighting.  -- Bob Crelin
[I will try and type the 1-page law into the computer for the next NELPAG
Circular.  -- Ed.]

    The town of Rowley's Planning Board unanimously approved lighting rules
and regulations recently.  At the public hearing on 1997 April 14, the Planning
Board heard from Rowley residents that lighting is a concern and that they
support my effort and wording for a lighting specification to be incorporated
into the town "Site Plan Guidelines" book.  Though not a bylaw, this is our
first step in gaining acceptance and official legal control of lighting issues.
On a 'show of hands vote', all residents in attendance were in favor of
Planning Board future action to develop a "lighting bylaw".  I plan to now
move out and begin a campaign to accomplish this for the 1998 Town Meeting.
This vote shows the Planning Board that the residents do have a concern
and I am not alone any more.
 --- John Petrowicz (Star Gate Observatory, Rowley, MA)

     Hubbell Lighting, Inc. [2000 Electric Way, Christiansburg, VA  24073-2500],
has a couple of nice light fixtures for residential yard/property lighting.
Unfortunately, most of their lighting is dreadful (in that it can be pointed
outward and upward).  But two or three of their "Lightscaper Fixtures" are
worthy of our list of cutoff fixtures that produce useful,
aesthetically-pleasing light for single- and multi-family houses.  Their
"Walkway Mushroom Light" (MR118), "Mushroom Lightscaper Fixture" (MR218),
and "Scoop Light" (S18) are among the good full-cutoff Hubbell lights that
can be used for yard, driveway, and walkway lighting.  Hubbell also has
an 18-watt louvered-face "Steplight" (D318) that "provides shielded light
output for steps, entrances, and walks" (complete with lamp and connector),
noting a typical mounting height of 6 inches to 3 feet.  This is described
in their May 1996 brochure, "Commercial Grade 12-volt Lightscaper Fixtures"
(OUT204), and a World Wide Web link to some of this info is available now
on the NELPAG homepage.

     Joshua Roth (Arlington, MA) sent me a billing-envelope insert that he
received with his recent Boston Edison electric bill.  It's selling "Home
Products" from "SECO Home Products", Natick, MA.  One of the six items that
they're selling by mail (with a "$25 Instant Rebate", no less!) is an
"Exterior Flood" light, totally unshielded, to be mounted on the side of
your house or building with light sent directly outward and upward.  The cost
is only $5.00 (with $3.00 shipping).  I think it's high time that we all
start writing to all such companies that sell, distribute, or promote such
horrendous lighting, to ask them to take it off the market and instead provide
good, full-cutoff cheap lights that point downward only.  If you want to
write SECO, their address is given as 14 Tech Circle; Natick, MA  01760-1086.
If you have time, please do jot them a note and tactfully ask them to be a
"good neighbor" by offering something better.

     I have greatly expanded the NELPAG pages on the World Wide Web (URL
provided above) in the past month, by popular demand.  I have heard from
others (and experienced myself) that the IDA Website is often slow and
sometimes even unreachable (as are all Websites from time to time!).  I have
thus begun two things on the NELPAG Website:  (1) Listing some of the best
links to other sites regarding outdoor-lighting issues; and (2) adding
information to help people more directly who are seeking information concerning
the writing/revising of town/city bylaws and ordinances on outdoor night
lighting.  As such, I have so far typed in some useful information on lamp
types/output and on model ordinances, and I have included pointers to some
IDA Information Sheets -- a couple of which are re-posted on these NELPAG pages
for access when the IDA Website is slow or down (I say "re-posted" because
the NELPAG Website was the birthplace of the original IDA Web pages, as many
of you may recall).  Feel free to pass along recommendations and comments for
improvements of this Web material.   -- D.W.E.G.

     In compiling all of the information on what has been happening in
Lexington, I find that there is so much stuff to report that it would be best
to devote most or all of a NELPAG Circular to this issue, and I hope to do
that in Circular No. 17.  -- D.W.E.G.

     Speaking of volunteers, NELPAG could use a few more regular volunteers
to help get our message out.  There are so many people asking for information
on outdoor lighting these days, as a result of the two bright comets of the
past year and of the increased visibility in the media to light-pollution
issues in this part of the United States.  The whole concept of good outdoor
lighting is one that is rapidly spreading into government offices, business
offices, and residential living rooms, and we need to take advantage of our
good fortune and more actively contact our local government and business
officials who have the power to make our nighttime environment a much safer,
more aesthetically pleasing one.  We can win this war, but not without a lot
of people working toward the betterment of our outdoor world!  Please do more
than just read this Circular!  -- D.W.E.G.


The NELPAG supports the International Dark-Sky Association and recommends
that all individuals/groups who are interested in the problems of light
pollution and obtrusive lighting should subscribe to the IDA Newsletter
(IDA membership costs $20.00 per year; send check to
International Dark-Sky Association, 3545 N. Stewart, Tucson, AZ  85716).