Buncombe commissioners preview: Lighting the way

At its Jan. 17 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will consider an outdoor-lighting ordinance to minimize light pollution, improve energy efficiency and maintain public safety.

The ordinance calls for limiting the intensity of illumination in new parking lots, roads and other areas, as well as requiring shielding to point light downward and limit glare. The Buncombe County Planning Board recommends approving the requirements.

However, some groups, including the local chapter of the Sierra Club and the Astronomy Club of Asheville, are pushing the commissioners to expand the restrictions beyond new commercial and industrial developments. In recent days, they’ve mounted a grassroots campaign to urge the commissioners to amend the ordinance to include restrictions on multifamily housing developments (apartments and condominiums), and to eliminate the grandfathering of existing lighting that would violate the new standards. In addition, they’re calling for more stringent standards on “dusk-to-dawn” security lights and billboards.

Meanwhile, the influential Council of Independent Business Owners has encouraged its members to oppose the measure, casting the new standards as costly and bad for business.

The Jan. 17 meeting will include a public hearing on the matter, giving anyone who wants to a chance to weigh in.

Additionally, the commissioners will consider a pair of grant applications for over $900,000 in state and federal funding that, if secured, would go to Mountain Mobility, the county’s transportation system. The grants would require roughly $166,000 in matching local funds.

Also on the meeting agenda: A presentation on the Health and Human Services Department’s efforts to prevent poverty, and a new “wellness incentive” designed to encourage county employees to measure and improve their blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass and blood sugar levels.

The board will meet at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the commissioners’ chambers, located at 30 Valley St. A short pre-meeting review of the agenda will begin at 4:15 p.m.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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