Appearance Commission 20/20 Plan: “Dark Sky” Project

Published 10:00 pm Friday, September 30, 2016

One of the benefits of living in the Foothills is that on clear night skies we are able to see an abundance of the stars and planets above. One reason we are able to enjoy this is because we are not inundated with lighting from streetlights, area parking lot lighting, and other outside lighting fixtures that could help pollute or obscure our views.

Part of the Appearance Commission’s 20/20 plan initiatives is Dark Sky. This program was launched to aid communities wishing to control light pollution and to preserve the night sky. Using the guidelines created by lighting professionals we can all benefit in many different areas.

Outdoor lighting should be carefully designed with regard to placement, intensity, timing, duration, and color. Good lighting will:

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Promote Safety: “More light” is not necessarily better. If not designed and installed correctly, unsafe glare can result, reducing the effect of lighting which can contribute to accidents and hinder visibility. Lighting that is too bright interferes with the eye’s ability to adapt to darker areas.

Save Money: Adhering to professionally recommended light levels provides adequate illumination. Shielded fixtures with efficient light bulbs are now more cost effective because they use less energy by directing the light towards the ground.

Conserve Natural Resources: Inappropriate or excessive lighting wastes our limited natural resources and pollutes the air and water by unnecessarily burning our limited supply of fossil fuels.

Be Better Neighbors: Excessive or misdirected lighting can intrude on the privacy of others when light or glare trespasses over property lines.

Retain Community Character and Reduce Sky Glow: Our clear view of the dark starry night sky is a resource to be preserved and protected. Stray and excessive lighting contributes to light pollution, clutter, and unnatural sky glow.

Protect Ecology of Flora and Fauna: Research studies indicate that artificial night lighting disrupts the migrating, feeding, and breeding habits of many wildlife species, as well as growth patterns of trees.

Reduce Health Risks: Light at night disrupts your sleep but also interferes your circadian rhythms. Recent research indicates that intrusive lighting may reduce the production of melatonin, a beneficial hormone, and a resulting rise in the rates of breast and other cancers.

Contact the Polk County Appearance Commission at P.O. Box 308, Columbus, NC 28722, call 828-894-2324, visit, or email me at