Bright lights could wash out development plans
DILLON – The brightness of its advertising lights might obscure Skyline Cinema’s plans to add two theaters with 261 seats to its building.
The Dillon Town Council has intimated it may hold up the movie theater’s plans for development pending the resolution of a dispute between the movie theater and some citizens. Residents along Buffalo Street, across from the Dillon Ridge shopping complex, say light from the theater’s large advertising sign on Highway 6 is an annoyance.
“For the last five years, we’ve had nothing but complaints from people along Buffalo Street there about the light from the sign,” Councilmember Mike Smith said. “(The theater owners) have ignored us. They’ve steadfastly refused to accept any type of input at all.”
Smith and other councilmembers decided a council review of the development was the only way to force concessions from the theater.
The owners of the theater, Trans-Lux Movies, based in Santa Fe, N.M., said they had yet to be notified of the council’s action.
Senior vice president Bryan Mercer said the company had received a letter from the town nearly a year ago stating that a reduction they made in the sign’s lighting had brought the glare to within acceptable levels. He said the company would wait to respond further pending notification from the town.
The proposed addition to the building would add almost an additional 5,000 square feet and has always been anticipated by town planners. When the theater was originally built, its owners had said that if the business performed well, they would expand the auditoriums, said Theresa Worsham, Dillon’s director of community development.
When Trans-Lux finally decided to make the addition, the planning commission reviewed the proposal and brought it before the council. In a rare move, the council decided it saw an opportunity to resolve the lighting complaints and chose to review the development itself.
The only way the council could ever force the theater to finally address the lighting issue was to hold its owners’ feet to the fire, Smith said.
“We’re not asking anything out of line,” he said. “So long as they’re willing to work with the town, I’m willing to support them.”
“My concern is that we have rules and regulations, and they’ve chosen not to abide by those,” Smith said. “I think they need to come into compliance.”
Those regulations are not totally clear, however, Town Manager Jack Benson said, and that’s where part of the problem lies.
“It’s been a nuisance, and our nuisance ordinances are pretty vague,” Benson said. “The problem is, where does a nuisance start and where does it stop?”
Benson said the town might have to amend its lighting ordinances and even go so far as to use light meters to enforce compliance.
“We’re just trying to get something that keeps their advertising but that neighbors don’t feel like they’re living in daylight 24 hours a day,” he said. “It’s one of those community things that you’re trying to balance. And it is balancing act to make sure that everybody’s rights are treated with dignity and respect.
“As you get more dense development, it’s tough to direct that light down directly on somebody’s property,” he continued. “But we need to make an effort.”
The town council will hold further hearings on the issue Aug. 19.
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