Breckenridge to extend deadline for dark sky friendly lighting requirement
BRECKENRIDGE — Making the town more “dark sky” friendly, in compliance with the International Dark Sky Communities program, has been on Breckenridge Town Council’s radar for years, but in light of the economic downtown, council decided Tuesday to extend the compliance deadline to 2025.
To be considered for the dark sky designation, the International Dark Sky Association requires that a community “has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance, dark sky education and citizen support of dark skies.” Minimum requirements include a “quality comprehensive lighting policy” that features specific minimum standards for permanent lighting outlined by the association.
There are 28 dark sky certified communities in the world, including Westcliffe and Silver Cliff in Colorado.
In 2007, the town’s exterior lighting rules were revised to become “more dark sky friendly” and set a compliance date of July 1, 2022, when all exterior light fixtures had to match the new code. As town staff prepared to give two years notice for the requirement, the Cedars Townhomes homeowners association asked council to consider extending the deadline or look at other dark sky solutions.
Town staff suggested council extend the deadline by three years but did not recommend alternative solutions. Assistant Community Development Director Julia Puester explained that enforcement would be difficult, if not impossible, if more temporary solutions were offered for compliance as opposed to the permanent metal lining applied to the interior sides of a fixture.
“In light of the financial burden that I think a lot of these, if they’re rental units or whatever, are going through right now, we give them a little more time to work on their budgets to get this done,” council member Dick Carleton said.
Carleton noted that the town still needs to require anyone who is doing a remodel and comes in for a permit to bring lighting up to code. Puester said any home or building that has been built or remodeled since 2007 has been required to comply with the lighting rules.
“I still think the dark sky compliance is really important for our community, both for people who live here and who visit,” said council member Kelly Owens, who was in agreement with the solution to extend the deadline. “It really adds a huge element to what we provide as a town.”
Town attorney Tim Berry will prepare an ordinance that will extend the deadline and include other details regarding retrofitting for the next town council meeting.
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