Williamstown Planning Board Wrestles With Lighting Bylaw
The Planning Board Tuesday took a first look at a draft revision of the town’s lighting bylaw that seeks to “reduce unnecessary and obtrusive lighting.”
iBerkshires.com reports backed by mounting evidence of the adverse health effects associated with too much artificial lighting and cognizant of the growing options for temperature and intensity of lighting with the advent of LED bulbs, the board has for months been discussing the need for a new bylaw.
On Tuesday, Alex Carlisle presented his draft to his colleagues, who were on the same page in terms of his objectives but raised questions about the enforceability of his proposed regulations and whether the town has the authority to control illumination from streetlights through zoning.
Street lighting is the jurisdiction of the Williamstown Fire District, a separate municipal authority that stands apart from the rest of town government.
Recently, the Prudential Committee, which administers the fire district, was challenged at its annual meeting over the issue of street lighting — specifically an agreement with National Grid to swap out the town’s current street lights with LED fixtures. Some town residents have objected that the LED lights slated to be used burn at 4,000 degrees Kelvin, a range that has been linked to disrupted sleep patterns and even cancer, according to some medical studies.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Planning Board Chair Stephanie Boyd suggested that her board back burner the street lighting component of the bylaw and focus on other aspects — at least until it has resolution of the legal question of whether such an ordinance can be enforced on the Prudential Committee and National Grid, which owns the light fixtures atop the poles on town streets.
Boyd also said that the Prudential Committee has heard the community’s concerns and already is talking to National Grid about the issue.
Prudential Committee Chairman John Notsley said Wednesday morning that he hopes to have more information by the time his panel meets on July 17.