Model Outdoor Lighting Ordinance for Cities and Towns

Following is a model text for an outdoor night-lighting ordinance that cities and towns can use, based on ordinances that have been successfully implemented in Kennebunkport, Maine, and Tucson, Arizona. Replace the word "Anytown" with the name of your city or town. Of course, terms such as "Town", "Town Meeting", "Code Enforcement Officer", "building official", "Subdivision Plat", "Board of Selectmen", and "Lighting Committee" may need to be changed to conform to local usages.

STATEMENT OF NEED AND PURPOSE:  Good outdoor lighting at night benefits
 everyone.  It increases safety, enhances the Town's night time character,
 and helps provide security.  New lighting technologies have produced lights
 that are extremely powerful, and these types of lights may be improperly
 installed so that they create problems of excessive glare, light trespass,
 and higher energy use.  Excessive glare can be annoying and may cause safety
 problems.  Light trespass reduces everyone's privacy, and higher energy use
 results in increased costs for everyone.  There is a need for a lighting
 ordinance that recognizes the benefits of outdoor lighting and provides clear
 guidelines for its installation so as to help maintain and compliment the
 Town's character.  Appropriately regulated, and properly installed, outdoor
 lighting will contribute to the safety and welfare of the residents of the Town.

This ordinance is intended to reduce the problems created by improperly
 designed and installed outdoor lighting.  It is intended to eliminate problems
 of glare, minimize light trespass, and help reduce the energy and financial
 costs of outdoor lighting by establishing regulations which limit the area
 that certain kinds of outdoor-lighting fixtures can illuminate and by limiting
 the total allowable illumination of lots located in the Town of Anytown.
 All business, residential, and community driveway, sidewalk, and property
 luminaires should be installed with the idea of being a "good neighbor", with
 attempts to keep unnecessary direct light from shining onto abutting
 properties or streets.

                                 ARTICLE 1

1.1.  DEFINITIONS:  For the purposes of this Ordinance, terms used shall be
    defined as follows:

Direct Light:  Light emitted directly from the lamp, off of the reflector or
   reflector diffuser, or through the refractor or diffuser lens, of a
Fixture:  The assembly that houses the lamp or lamps and can include all or
   some of the following parts:  a housing, a mounting bracket or pole socket,
   a lamp holder, a ballast, a reflector or mirror, and/or a refractor or lens.
Flood or Spot light:  Any light fixture or lamp that incorporates a reflector
   or a refractor to concentrate the light output into a directed beam in a
   particular direction.
Fully-shielded lights:  outdoor light fixtures shielded or constructed so that
   no light rays are emitted by the installed fixture at angles above the
   horizontal plane as certified by a photometric test report.
Glare:  Light emitting from a luminaire with an intensity great enough to
   reduce a viewer's ability to see, and in extreme cases causing momentary
Grandfathered luminaires:  Luminaires not conforming to this code that were
   in place at the time this code was voted into effect.  When an ordinance
   "grandfathers" a luminaire, it means that such already-existing outdoor
   lighting does not need to be changed unless a specified period is specified
   for adherence to the code.
Height of Luminaire:  The height of a luminaire shall be the vertical distance
   from the ground directly below the centerline of the luminaire to the lowest
   direct-light-emitting part of the luminaire.
Indirect Light:  Direct light that has been reflected or has scattered off of
   other surfaces.
Lamp:  The component of a luminaire that produces the actual light.
Light Trespass:  The shining of light produced by a luminaire beyond the
   boundaries of the property on which it is located.
Lumen:  A unit of luminous flux.  One footcandle is one lumen per square foot.
   For the purposes of this Ordinance, the lumen-output values shall be the
   INITIAL lumen output ratings of a lamp.
Luminaire:  This is a complete lighting system, and includes a lamp or lamps
   and a fixture.
Outdoor Lighting:  The night-time illumination of an outside area or object
   by any man-made device located outdoors that produces light by any means.
Temporary outdoor lighting:  The specific illumination of an outside area of
   object by any man-made device located outdoors that produces light by any
   means for a period of less than 7 days, with at least 180 days passing
   before being used again.

                                 ARTICLE 2

2.1.  REGULATIONS:  All public and private outdoor lighting installed in the
 Town of Anytown shall be in conformance with the requirements established
 by this Ordinance.  All previous language in Anytown bylaws and ordinances
 regarding outdoor lighting is replaced with this ordinance.

     A.  Any luminaire with a lamp or lamps rated at a total of MORE than 1800
 lumens, and all flood or spot luminaires with a lamp or lamps rated at a total
 of MORE than 900 lumens, shall not emit any direct light above a horizontal
 plane through the lowest direct-light-emitting part of the luminaire.

     B.  Any luminaire with a lamp or lamps rate at a total of MORE than 1800
 lumens, and all flood or spot luminaires with a lamp or lamps rated at a total
 of MORE than 900 lumens, shall be mounted at a height equal to or less than
 the value 3 + (D/3), where D is the distance in feet to the nearest property
 boundary.  The maximum height of the luminaire may not exceed 25 feet.

     A.  Any luminaire with a lamp or lamps rated at a total of 1800 lumens or
 LESS, and all flood or spot luminaires with a lamp or lamps rated at 900
 lumens or LESS, may be used without restriction to light distribution or
 mounting height, except that if any spot of flood luminaire rated 900 lumens
 or LESS is aimed, directed, or focused such as to cause direct light from the
 luminaire to be directed toward residential buildings on adjacent or nearby
 land, or to create glare perceptible to persons operating motor vehicles on
 public ways, the luminaire shall be redirected or its light output controlled
 as necessary to eliminate such conditions.

     B.  Luminaires used for public-roadway illumination may be installed at
 a maximum height of 25 feet and may be positioned at that height up to the
 edge of any bordering property.

     C.  All temporary emergency lighting need by the the Police or Fire
 Departments or other emergency services, as well as all vehicular luminaires,
 shall be exempt from the requirements of this article.

     D.  All hazard warning luminaires required by Federal regulatory agencies
 are exempt from the requirements of this article, except that all luminaires
 used must be red and must be shown to be as close as possible to the Federally
 required minimum lumen output requirement for the specific task.

     E.  Luminaires used primarily for sign illumination may be mounted at any
 height to a maximum of 25 feet, regardless of lumen rating.

     F.  Law Governing Conflicts.  Where any provision of federal, state,
 county, or town statutes, codes, or laws conflicts with any provision of this
 code, the most restrictive shall govern unless otherwise regulated by law.

     A.  Top Mounted Fixtures Required.  Lighting fixtures used to illuminate
 an outdoor advertising sign shall be mounted on the top of the sign structure.
 All such fixtures shall comply with the shielding requirements of Section 2.2.
 Bottom-mounted outdoor advertising-sign lighting shall not be used.

     B.  Outdoor advertising signs of the type constructed of translucent
 materials and wholly illuminated from within do not require shielding.  Dark
 backgrounds with light lettering or symbols are preferred, to minimize
 detrimental effects.  Unless conforming to the above dark background
 preference, total lamp wattage per property shall be less than 41 watts.

     C.  Compliance Limit.  Existing outdoor advertising  structures shall be
 brought into conformance with this Code within ten years from the date of
 adoption of this provision.

     D.  Prohibitions.  Electrical illumination of outdoor advertising off-site
 signs between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and sunrise is prohibited.

     A.  Any light source permitted by this Code may be used for lighting of
 outdoor recreational facilities (public or private), such as, but not limited
 to, football fields, soccer fields, baseball fields, softball fields, tennis
 courts, or show areas, provided all of the following conditions are met:

          a.  All fixtures used for event lighting shall be fully shielded as
       defined in Section 2.2 of this Code, or be designed or provided with
       sharp cut-off capability, so as to minimize up-light, spill-light, and
          b.  All events shall be scheduled so as to complete all activity
       before or as near to 10:30 p.m. as practical, but under no circumstances
       shall any illumination of the playing field, court, or track be permitted
       after 11:00 p.m. except to conclude a scheduled event that was in
       progress before 11:00 p.m. and circumstances prevented concluding
       before 11:00 p.m.

     A.  Laser Source Light.  The use of laser source light or any similar
 high intensity light for outdoor advertising or entertainment, when projected
 above the horizontal is prohibited.

     B.  Searchlights.  The operation of searchlights for advertising purposes
 is prohibited.

     C.  Outdoor Advertising Off-Site Signs.  Electrical illumination of
outdoor advertising off-site signs is prohibited between the hours of 11:00
 p.m. and sunrise.

     A.  Any temporary outdoor lighting that conforms to the requirements of
 this Ordinance shall be allowed.  Nonconforming temporary outdoor lighting
 may be permitted by the Board of Selectmen after considering:  (1) the public
 and/or private benefits that will result from the temporary lighting; (2) any
 annoyance or safety problems that may result from the use of the temporary
 lighting; and (3) the duration of the temporary nonconforming lighting.  The
 applicant shall submit a detailed description of the proposed temporary
 nonconforming lighting to the Board of Selectmen, who shall consider the
 request at a duly called meeting of the Board of Selectmen.  Prior notice of
 the meeting of the Board of Selectmen shall be given to the applicant and to
 the Anytown Lighting Committee.  The Board of Selectmen shall render
 its decision on the temporary lighting request within two weeks of the date of
 the meeting.  A failure by the Board of Selectmen to act on a request within
 the time allowed shall constitute a denial of the request.

                                 ARTICLE 3

     A.  This ordinance shall take effect immediately upon approval by the
 voters of the Town of Anytown at an annual or special Town Meeting and
 shall supersede and replace all previous ordinances pertaining to outdoor

     B.  All luminaires lawfully in place prior to the date of the Ordinance
 shall be grandfathered.  However, any luminaire that replaces a grandfathered
 luminaire, or any grandfathered luminaire that is moved, must meet the
 standards of this Ordinance.  Advertising signs are grandfathered only
 for a period of ten years, as specified in section 2.4.C.

     C.  Grandfathered luminaires that direct light toward streets or parking
 lots that cause disability glare to motorists or cyclists should be either
 shielded or re-directed within 90 days of notification, so that the luminaires
 do not cause a potential hazard to motorists or cyclists.

                                 ARTICLE 4

     A.  Submission Contents.  The applicant for any permit required by any
 provision of the laws of this jurisdiction in connection with proposed work
 involving outdoor lighting fixtures shall submit (as part of the application
 for permit) evidence that the proposed work will comply with this Code.  The
 submission shall contain but shall not necessarily be limited to the
 following, all or part of which may be part or in addition to the information
 required elsewhere in the laws of this jurisdiction upon application for the
 required permit:

    plans indicating the location on the premises, and the type of
       illuminating devices, fixtures, lamps, supports, reflectors, and other

    description of the illuminating devices, fixtures, lamps, supports,
       reflectors, and other devices and the description may include, but is
       not  limited to, catalog cuts by manufacturers and drawings (including
       sections  where required);

    photometric data, such as that furnished by manufacturers, or similar
       showing the angle of cut off or light emissions.

     B.  Additional Submission.  The above required plans, descriptions and
 data shall be sufficiently complete to enable the plans examiner to readily
 determine whether compliance with the requirements of this Code will be
 secured.  If such plans, descriptions and data cannot enable this ready
 determination, by reason of the nature or configuration of the devices,
 fixtures, or lamps proposed, the applicant shall additionally submit as
 evidence of compliance to enable such determination such certified reports
 of tests as will do so provided that these tests shall have been performed
 and certified by a recognized testing laboratory.

     C.  Subdivision Plat Certification.  If any subdivision proposes to have
 installed street or other common or public area outdoor lighting, the final
 plat shall contain a statement certifying that the applicable provisions of
 the Town of Anytown Outdoor Lighting Code will be adhered to.

     D.  Lamp or Fixture Substitution.  Should any outdoor light fixture, or
 the type of light source therein, be changed after the permit has been issued,
 a change request must be submitted to the building official for his approval,
 together with adequate information to assure compliance with this code, which
 must be received prior to substitution.

                                 ARTICLE 5

     A.  The Town of Anytown building permit shall include a statement
 asking whether the planned project will include any outdoor lighting.
     B.  Within 30 days of the enactment of this ordinance, the Code
 Enforcement Officer shall send a copy of the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, with
 cover letter to all local electricians and local electric utility (including
 at least those in the Towns of Anytown, [list immediately-adjacent towns
 here], as listed in the Yellow Pages).

                                 ARTICLE 6

     A.  Violation.  It shall be a civil infraction for any person to violate
 any of the provisions of this Code.  Each and every day during which the
 violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.
     B.  Violations and Legal Actions:  If, after investigation, the Code
 Enforcement Officer finds that any provision of the Ordinance is being
 violated, he shall give notice by hand delivery or by certified mail,
 return-receipt requested, of such violation to the owner and/or to the
 occupant of such premises, demanding that violation be abated within thirty
 (30) days of the date of hand delivery or of the date of mailing of the
 notice.  If the violation is not abated within the thirty-day period, the
 Code Enforcement Officer may institute actions and proceedings, either legal
 or equitable, to enjoin, restrain, or abate any violations of this Ordinance
 and to collect the penalties for such violations.
     C.  Penalties:  A violation of this Ordinance, or any provision thereof,
 shall be punishable by a civil penalty of not less than fifty dollars nor
 more than one thousand dollars for any individual (and not more than ten
 thousand dollars for any corporation, association, or other legal entity) for
 each violation.  The imposition of a fine under this Code shall not be
 suspended.  Each day of violation after the expiration of the thirty-day
 period provided in paragraph B shall constitute a separate offense for the
 purpose of calculating the civil penalty.