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H.698

Introduced by Representatives Schiavone of Shelburne and Miller of Shaftsbury

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject: Conservation; Act 250; light pollution

Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to require the commissioner of labor and industry, with the advice of the department of public service, to adopt rules that establish outdoor lighting standards, which shall be met by all outdoor lighting on state property, and which, if met in a project subject to Act 250, would satisfy the light pollution requirements of Act 250.

AN ACT RELATING TO ESTABLISHING OUTDOOR LIGHTING STANDARDS FOR APPLICATION ON STATE PROPERTY AND ON PROJECTS SUBJECT TO ACT 250

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 21 V.S.A. chapter 3, subchapter 10 is added to read:

Subchapter 10. Outdoor Lighting Standards

§ 269. REGULATION OF OUTDOOR LIGHTING

(a) Legislative purpose. It is the purpose of this subchapter to provide standards for outdoor lighting so that its use does not interfere with the beauty and quality of the Vermont night sky. It is the intent of the general assembly, through the regulation of the types, kinds, construction, installation, and uses of outdoor electrically powered illuminating devices, lighting practices, and systems, to conserve energy without decreasing safety, utility, security, and productivity while enhancing nighttime enjoyment of property within the state. It is also the intent of this subchapter to minimize the intrusion of lighting across property lines, thereby avoiding disruption of the quality of life for nearby private residences, and to avoid the disruption of natural instinctive cycles of flora and fauna within nearby natural areas.

(b) Definitions. For purposes of this subchapter, the following definitions apply:

(1) "Fully shielded" means outdoor light fixtures shielded or constructed so that no light rays are emitted by the installed fixture at angles greater than 20 degrees below the horizontal plane as certified by a photometry test report.

(2) "Installed" means the attachment or assembly, fixed in place, whether or not connected to a power source, of any outdoor lighting fixture.

(3) "Light trespass" means any artificial light falling outside the boundaries of the property upon which it is installed.

(4) "Outdoor lighting fixture" means outdoor electrically powered illuminating devices, outdoor lighting or reflective surfaces, lamps and similar devices, permanently installed or portable, used for illumination, decoration, or advertisement. Such devices shall include, but are not limited to, search, spot, and flood lights at or on:

(A) Buildings and structures;

(B) Recreational areas;

(C) Parking lot lighting;

(D) Landscape lighting;

(E) Billboards and other signs (advertising or other);

(F) Street lighting;

(G) Product display area lighting;

(H) Building overhangs, eaves, and open canopies.

(5) "Partially shielded" means outdoor light fixtures shielded or constructed so that no more than ten percent of the light rays are emitted by the installed fixture at angles greater than 20 degrees below the horizontal plane, and shall not extend above the horizontal plane, as certified by a photometry test report.

(c) Adoption of Outdoor Lighting Standards. By no later than April 15, 2001, the commissioner of labor and industry shall adopt rules that establish outdoor lighting standards that, as a minimum, require all nonexempt outdoor lighting fixtures that are on state property or are subject to regulation under

10 V.S.A. chapter 151 to be fully or partially shielded and to avoid creating light trespass. The rules may regulate types, kinds, construction, installation, and uses of outdoor electrically powered illuminating devices, lighting practices, and systems that are on state property or are subject to 10 V.S.A. chapter 151. The department of public service shall provide technical assistance and expert advice to the commissioner in the interpretation of the standards, and in the formulation of specific proposals for developing and amending the standards. Construction commencing on or after July 1, 2001 that is on state property or that is subject to regulation under 10 V.S.A. chapter 151 shall comply with those standards, and preexisting construction shall be upgraded into compliance, as preexisting illuminating devices are replaced.

(d) Information dissemination. The department of public service shall develop and disseminate criteria and information that builders may use to assure compliance with the standards. An example package which complies with the standards shall be included in the rules and updated as appropriate. Each time the standards are amended by the commissioner, the department of public service shall develop modified compliance packages which will become available to the public by the date that the amendment becomes effective.

(e) Role of standards in Act 250. Substantial and reliable evidence of compliance with the outdoor lighting standards established and updated as required under this section shall serve as a presumption of compliance with the light pollution aspects of 10 V.S.A. § 6086(a)(5), (8), and (9)(K). In attempting to rebut a presumption of compliance created under this subsection, a challenge may only focus on the question of whether or not there will be compliance with the standard established and updated as required under this subsection. A presumption under this subsection may not be overcome by evidence that the standards adopted and updated as required under this section fail to comply with the light pollution aspects of 10 V.S.A. § 6086(a)(5), (8), and (9)(K).

(f) Local option. Standards adopted under this section may be adopted by reference by a municipality under 24 V.S.A. chapter 117 or 59, but shall not apply within any municipality which by ordinance or bylaw has adopted provisions restricting light pollution which are equal to or more stringent than those established in rules adopted under this section.