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January 13, 2013

Dimming restrictions on commercial lighting

NORMAN — City leaders have decided it’s time to hit the dimmer switch on high voltage restrictions on commercial lighting in the city. Members of the Norman City Council continued discussions this week on “unintended consequences” of the city’s commercial lighting ordinance which became effective July 22, 2011.

Council member Chad Williams submitted on an entirely new lighting ordinance and continues to work on that draft, while city staff have worked to modify the existing ordinance according to city council’s direction. Proposed changes are intended to eliminate problem areas.

Those areas of concern include the photometric plan which has turned out to be more costly and difficult to obtain than had been anticipated. City leaders debated whether to make the plan optional with a clause that any business without a plan proceeds at risk of having to make changes if lighting violates the ordinance.

Developers want the photometric plan eliminated altogether and say it’s not necessary if other elements of the lighting ordinance are in place.

Council member Tom Kovach supported making the photometric plan optional. Kovach said some lighting contractors include the plan. In other cases, it may not be needed.

Kovach said often developers can use a “predictive method rather than a measured method” for determining if there will be glare or light spillover if they opt out of the photometric plan.

The lumen cap was also under discussion. Some want it removed totally, others say it is reasonable and some say it can be raised with out creating too much glow.

Council member Greg Jungman suggested raising the pole heights. For example, in the case of Harvest Church which would have been forced to put shorter lights on its additional parking area than on the previous area, Jungman said he believed 30 foot poles are reasonable. This also saves money because the shorter the poles, the more poles must be used to light the same area.

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