CAPE MAY – Cape May City Council introduced an ordinance, Aug. 15, to regulate light pollution. The ordinance says it is in the best interests of the public for the city to preserve and protect against light pollution and unnecessary sky glow, while promoting nighttime safety and security.
The multipage ordinance defines issues of concern, asking residents to consider mindful light design that is respectful of neighbors, not harmful to wildlife, and not wasteful of energy.
Setting boundaries for light pollution is not new. The National Council of State Legislatures listed 19 states with light pollution regulations, as of March 2022. California is currently considering joining the list. New Jersey was not on that list. The state has some limited light pollution laws on the books, but the issue here has been one more at municipal levels. Some, but not many, municipalities have adopted dark-sky-friendly ordinances.
Dark sky advocates are quick to note that light pollution is an issue that goes well beyond providing better views of the night sky. Scientific studies show that light pollution can disrupt the feeding and mating patterns of nocturnal animals and attract insects where they would not normally be. Light trespass, when light travels to adjacent properties, can be a neighborhood nuisance.
Most individuals who oppose light pollution regulations do so on safety grounds. Advocates argue that lighting design and the use of shield fixtures can avoid light trespass while still promoting security.
The ordinance is scheduled for a public hearing at the Sept. 19 council meeting.
Contact the author, Vince Conti, at firstname.lastname@example.org.