ASHEVILLE, N.C. — An ordinance in a North Carolina city is making local restaurants turn off their outdoor lights, but business owners say that’s creating another problem.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports the city of Asheville passed the ordinance and updated it in 2012 with the help of a local astronomy club. The intent is to reduce light pollution and eliminate safety hazards caused by glare.
“It’s far more than just protecting skies,” said Bernard Arghiere, a board member with the Astronomy Club of Asheville. “It’s creating lighting that’s adequate for safety but not glaring.”
Suspended strings of lights with individual lamps larger than 15 lumens are prohibited under the ordinance, as are exposed bulbs visible from a property’s boundary. A restaurant with a lighted patio was cited for its lighted patio and told it had to go dark.
“I don’t want to say it’s unenforceable, it’s just unrealistic,” said Tom Israel, owner of Pack’s Tavern. “When we’re talking about the downtown area, well, you don’t exactly go down there to see the night sky.”
The city in early March sent Israel a zoning violation notice calling for removal of any “exposed lamp or bulb visible from the property boundary, which is prohibited.” Israel was directed to remove any string lighting on outdoor and enclosed patios by April 9 or face fines of $100 a day.
Some area restaurant and brewery owners say enforcement of the ordinance has left customers and servers in the dark, leading to another safety issue.
Israel thinks grumbling from the restaurant and brewery community has put a spotlight on problems with the ordinance.
“I hope they’ll be a little more realistic and recognize they’re supposed to be supporting, not restricting, local business,” he said.
Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com