Save the Night | Be the Solution, Stop Light Pollution
Save the Night | Be the Solution, Stop Light Pollution
The outdoor lighting bylaw proposed by Nantucket Lights founder Gail Walker was adopted at Nantucket's 2023 Annual Town Meeting on a vote of 298-152, following a motion to amend by Nantucket Public Schools superintendent Beth Hallett that would have gutted it was soundly defeated on a vote of 169-288. Effective 1/1/24.
According to satellite data, our night skies are 25% brighter today than they were just ten years ago, making it harder to see the stars at night in many places on the island (it's actually likely even worse than that because satellites are essentially blind to the blue light emitted by LED). Complaints about light trespass and glare from neighboring properties are increasing. The evidence of harm from artificial light at night to human health, pollinating insects, birds, and other wildlife (even plants and trees) is mounting. Excessive and unnecessary outdoor lighting is also a waste of precious energy and eroding the historic charm of the island.
It’s time to take preserving our night skies as seriously as other conservation and preservation efforts, to do more to protect an important part of our heritage – the dark skies that made Maria Mitchell’s discovery of a comet possible, that residents and visitors to the island have cherished for hundreds of years, and that make Nantucket one of the rare remaining places in the United States where the Milky Way can still be seen.
We need a stronger outdoor lighting bylaw that’s consistent with what's currently considered best practices for minimizing light pollution. The new bylaw proposed by Nantucket Lights founder and president Gail Walker as a 2023 ATM Citizen Warrant Article ("Bylaw Amendment - Outdoor Lighting") -- the product of extensive discussions with outdoor lighting experts and the culmination of years of research -- fits the bill.
We hope you'll support it!
Please see below for FinCom's positive recommendation, other endorsements, updates, useful links, and ways you can help.
It received a positive recommendation from the Town's Finance Committee!
Nantucket Civic League (letter here)
Nantucket Historical Commission (letter here)
Nantucket Land Council (endorsement here)
Brant Point Association (letter here)
Madaket Conservation Association (letter here)
Nantucket Town Association (letter here)
Naushop Homeowners Association (letter here)
Polpis Association (letter here)
'Sconset Civic Association (letter here)
Shimmo Association (letter here)
Surfside Association (letter here)
Tom Nevers Civic Association (letter here)
Quidnet Squam Association (letter here)
Nantucket Wine & Spirits (letter here)
Youth Climate Committee (NHS)
1/26 FinCom Meeting
The committee discussed the proposal but didn't take a vote on whether or not to recommend passage of it; discussion to be continued. Recording (starting at 1:16:49): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr8lNoLGy1w
2/16 FinCom Meeting
The committee discussed the proposal again at length but still didn't take a vote on it; discussion to be continued at the 2/23 meeting. Some committee members indicated a willingness to vote to recommend passage of it if the enforcement provisions that went beyond what's in the existing bylaw were removed. Without agreeing to give up on those provisions, Gail offered to provide a draft motion to adopt with the "enhanced" enforcement provisions removed, for the committee's consideration on 2/23. Recording (starting at 16:13): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpJKlVwvf5A.
2/23 FinCom Meeting
FinCom voted (7-1) to recommend passage of the proposed bylaw with the "enhanced" enforcement provisions removed, out of concern that they would be too burdensome for the Town. This included the proposed outdoor lighting permit requirement and a formal appeal process for those wanting to challenge a decision (or inaction) by the Lighting Enforcement Officer. No changes were made to the proposed new lighting requirements other than those that Gail indicated were needed to correct some inconsistencies she discovered after filing her article. Before the vote, Gail stated on the record that she would support the revised version if it were endorsed by FinCom. The Town Meeting Warrant will reflect the committee's recommendation and contain the revised version. View the Motion to Adopt, as passed, here. Recording (starting at 1:53:07): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RerXndot4ks.
3/16 Here and There Column in the Inquirer and Mirror
“Those of us who grew up on the island take our dark skies for granted. But seasonal residents and visitors from the mainland, where light pollution is common, know what a special gift we have with an evening environment that’s pretty darn good for stargazing. Some people can also see the threats to our dark skies with all the new building going on, especially the construction of these huge houses and compounds with pools and spas that are lit up all night long, whether the properties are occupied or not.
One of those people cognizant of what we stand to lose is Gail Walker, who with her husband, the author John Lancaster, has been coming to the island every summer for almost 40 years. Off-season they live in Washington, D.C.
Walker is the sponsor of Article 76, which will be considered by voters at Town Meeting on Saturday, May 6 and addresses regulations for outdoor lighting. It is well worth our consideration. In the face of the rampant building and development, we need to be vigilant and aware of unintended consequences and work hard to keep what we can of what has always been special about Nantucket.”
4/19 Meet the Articles Forum
Discussion of Article 76 (2-minute time limit):
4/20 Article in the Inquirer and Mirror
"Article 76 would overhaul lighting code"
5/8 Vote at Town Meeting
The proposed new outdoor lighting bylaw was adopted on a vote of 298-152, after a motion to amend by Nantucket Public Schools superintendent Beth Hallett that would have gutted it was soundly defeated on a vote of 169-288. Dr, Hallett's motion would have exempted not only the public schools campus but all Nantucket municipal buildings and parking lots and the Nantucket Cottage Hospital from all the proposed new regulations.
★ Volunteer your time to help us promote the proposed new bylaw before 2023 Town Meeting. If you have time to hand out written materials, put up flyers, or help with a targeted mailing, let us know!
★ Help us grow our list of supporters by joining our mailing list and encouraging others to do the same. To join the mailing list, click here.
★ Make a donation so that we can afford to run ads and do other things to promote the proposed new bylaw. The link to our GoFundMe campaign is here.
★ Put a "Save the Night" bumper sticker on your car or truck and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. The link for requesting one is here.
★ Wear a "Discover the Night on Nantucket" t-shirt and encourage others to do the same. Order one here.
★ Show your support on social media, in particular the FaceBook page for the Nantucket Year-Round Community group, if you're part of that. It has over 8,000 members, many of whom will be voting at 2023 ATM.
★ Finally, if you're a registered voter on Nantucket, please plan to attend the 2023 ATM on May 6, speak up in support of the proposal, and vote in favor of it!
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