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June 22, 2011

Council approves lighting ordinance

NORMAN — The Norman City Council voted 6 to 2 Tuesday night to adopt a contentious outdoor commercial lighting ordinance. Councilmen Al Atkins and Dan Quinn voted against it.

Most of the residents who addressed the council Tuesday night were against the ordinance, which will apply to all new lighting installed in Norman.

The new standards address light poles, light fixtures and wall packs and require developers to submit a photometric lighting plan before a building permit is issued. Retrofitting, a major concern from the business community, isn’t a part of the ordinance.

City officials said the purpose of the ordinance is to address light spillover from commercial onto residential properties and to reduce energy waste.

Resident Larry Steele was for the adoption of the lighting ordinance. He said its detractors, who feared the ordinance could have negative, unforeseen consequences, were “being a little bit paranoid.”

“This ordinance actually improves lighting,” Steele said. “Good lighting is not less lighting.”

Steele said Norman, which considers itself a progressive community, should take a long-term view when it comes to ordinances such as these.

“Every first-class city in the country has a reasonable lighting ordinance,” Steele said. “Although this is not a perfect ordinance, it’s a good start.”

Maj. Jim Maisano of the Norman Police Department said there “will be no impact in police services provided” in the city.

In fact, he said the ordinance should actually improve visibility at night and help officers’ vision as it transitions from lighted to darker areas.

Assistant City Attorney Blaine Nice said the ordinance couldn’t be used to “harass” certain businesses, who may be targeted by individuals in the community who are unhappy with lighting on the property.

“We have checks and balances in place,” Nice said. “We try to be consistent. It’s not just one individual making a subjective decision.”

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