Bath County Supervisors And Planning Commission Discuss Lighting And Small Wind Ordinances
Warm Springs, Va – The Bath County Planning Commission and the Bath Board of Supervisors met on Monday evening in a joint work session to discuss a couple of proposed ordinances, one on outdoor lighting regulations and the other on small wind energy systems.
Most of the discussion focused on the lighting ordinance. The proposed ordinance addresses outdoor lighting standards for business and industrial zoning. Existing businesses would be grandfathered under the proposed ordinance, but new businesses and businesses undergoing renovation will need to meet the lighting regulations. The ordinance outlines lighting standards that would reduce the impacts of glare, light trespass and over lighting.
The discussion centered on whether to measure light and how to make the ordinance enforceable. County Supervisor Claire Collins said she wanted to be sure the ordinance could go through a court process if it were challenged. She suggested putting in measurable standards of light that were included in a previous draft; she felt if measurable standards were not included, then the county could not prove if a business had met the lighting requirements. County Planner and Zoning Administrator Sherry Ryder said measurable standards were removed previously because feedback on the proposed ordinance asked for it to be simplified.
The ordinance designates the county zoning administrator as the enforcement official. There was concern that that might be too subjective, since the zoning administrator could be a different person over a number of years, each with a different interpretation of the ordinance. Supervisors Kevin Fry, Bruce McWilliams and Cliff Gilchrest all felt that the ordinance was a starting point and that measurable standards did not need to be included.
There was also a discussion about lighted signs and how they will be addressed. It was decided that lighted signs could be covered under the county’s sign ordinance. The proposed outdoor lighting ordinance will be revised to include the determination about lighted signs, but the revision will not include any measurable standards on light. The Bath Board of Supervisors has a public hearing on the proposed outdoor lighting ordinance scheduled for its March 13 meeting.
The proposed ordinance on small wind energy systems was also reviewed at the meeting and that discussion went quickly. The ordinance addresses small systems that are for use by residences and farms. The construction of small wind systems will be permitted only by obtaining a conditional use permit, so the planning commission would review each one that is proposed. There are currently no small wind energy systems in Bath County. Supervisor Claire Collins said the proposed small wind ordinance was well written and showed that a lot of work had gone into it.