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Shelter Island lighting debate heats up before meeting

Shelter Island officials are considering dark skies legislation

Shelter Island officials are considering dark skies legislation that would limit light pollution. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona, 2011

A proposal to adopt dark skies legislation to limit light pollution on Shelter Island — similar to laws already adopted elsewhere on the East End — is generating a lot of heat in the small town.

A public hearing is set for Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Town Hall on the legislation, but the argument over whether a lighting code is needed and what measures should be taken to deal with light pollution has been waged in local discussions and in the pages of the town’s weekly newspaper.

Supervisor James Dougherty said the opposition comes from many things, from “a strong feeling of bias against government interference with people” to the fact that, in the rural, sparsely settled town, there is little apparent need for a new measure to restrict lighting.

Most dark skies codes on the East End are similar, mandating that lighting cannot go past the owner’s property line and that outdoor fixtures must be shielded so ambient light does not shine up in the sky, but only down on the ground.

There have been complaints about lights on summer homes that go on automatically when no one is home, but town Councilman Paul Shepherd said the proposed legislation is too broad, and should be focused so it does not affect any resident unnecessarily.


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