Letters to the Editor: Shed some light on the lighting.
I've heard conflicting answers to my question, so I'm not sure who to believe. I'm concerned about the height of the light poles that Wegmans wants to install. I fear that the 50 ft light poles Wegmans requested will look like a stadium towering over my home, but I've also heard that lights are better than they were when the 25 ft light pole restrictions were put in place. Can you help?
That is an excellent question. When we think back to the classic episode of Seinfeld, when Kenny Rogers opened a restaurant with a giant neon sign next door to Kramer's apartment, it is easy to laugh about the mental anguish Kramer experienced. That was television though and your concern is very real.
The truth is, lighting has made incredible technological advances over the past 25 years, since the original 1995 proffers became legally binding. Some advancements include the proliferation of LED fixtures, improvements in light shields, and better options for selecting color temperature.
What this means for communities is that there are substantially better options available to contractors. That is welcome news for people forced to live near a large facility like a distribution center. Despite the new technology, there is little debate that residents will still be able to see the proposed lights and the illuminated property below them, especially since Wegmans has requested that the light pole restrictions be raised from 25 ft to 45 ft (not 50 ft as indicated in your question). Since you mentioned a stadium, let's use that for some perspective. A 45 ft light pole is a very tall light pole, but still shy of the mimimum pole height required by Little League Baseball and Softball in their 2017 Little League® Lighting Standards & Safety Audit (p11) that requires a height of 60 ft.
By contrast, a 25 ft light pole would be about the height of the roof peak on neighboring 2 story homes, meaning the number of homes impacted by direct view would be smaller than polls that would tower over the homes and be visible at great distance. The argument that the 1995 lighting proffers are outdated because of lighting advancements is untrue. It would be true if all the neighboring houses had been replaced by 4 story apartment complexes, but that isn't the case. The proffer is there to prevent light poles from towering above residential areas.
At the end of the day, the question becomes, who should benefit from the improvements in lighting technology? Should residents benefit from technological improvements in lighting or should the Board of Supervisors vote to remove legal protections from citizens to give the benefits to Wegmans. Keep in mind, even if the Board votes to keep citizen protections, Wegmans will benefit from the new technology too through increased energy efficiency, from better light coverage, and from reduced maintenance costs.
Keeping the 25 ft restriction with improved technology could be a mutual win for Wegmans and the Community. The Board just needs to realize that maintaining the 25 ft restriction would drastically improve the quality of life for nearby neighbors because the lights wouldn't tower above houses like 45 ft poles would.
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