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Houston County Courier - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company

Former councilman argues city must address lighting issue
to ‘promote health, general welfare’

Houston County Courier

By Lynda Jones Managing Editor

James Hall, a former Crockett city councilman, is one of the Norman Lane residents who continues to contend with a neighbor’s stadium-sized spotlights directed at his home. When approached at its January meeting to enact a lighting ordinance in the city, the Crockett City Council took no action. Hall’s wife and another neighbor were present. They were told the situation appeared to be a neighbor conflict and not a need to be addresssed by the city. Hall argues it is the responsibility of the city to protect its citizens, and will once again ask the council to enact a lighting ordinance at its next meeting. “Past experience has taught me that anyone or member of an organization reading a document regulating their actions should pay close attention to words like “never”, “may”, “shall” or “must” imbedded in the document,” Hall states. Hall said municipal ordinances (city law) are legal documents, and that the City of Crockett has a Comprehensive Zoning Plan (ordinance). The retired councilman shared with the Courier the documents he references, and letters he has previously submitted to the city. Section 102 of the Crockett zoning ordinance to which Hall refers states, “The Crockett zoning ordinance is specifically directed to the protection of the public health, safety, morals, convenience and general welfare.” Section 103, Hall points out, addresses the application of the zoning ordinance and provides definitions of terms, such as structure. He notes that in Title 7 of the Texas Local Government Code, Section 211-004 states “zoning regulations must be adopted in accordance with a comprehensive plan and must be designed to . . .(3) promote health and the general welfare.” The message Hall wants the council to hear is, “One would think common sense and good moral character would prevent anyone from directing high-intensity lights onto another person’s home. However, there are those who appear to take pleasure in doing such a thing and Crockett does not have a specific ordinance prohibiting such actions.” He questions, “If lighting trespass is just an issue of civil dispute, why do so many cities have ordinances against it?” Hall said he took to the city a copy of the lighting ordinance adopted by Dripping Springs, a city of similar size to Crockett, as an example of what Crockett needs. Relevant parts state the ordinance there was adopted for the purpose of “Ensuring that outdoor lighting does not unreasonably interfere with the reasonable use and enjoyment of property, and to minimize instances of light trespass . . .; helping to preserve the present rural character within the city’s jurisdiction by minimizing the growth of urban skyglow; ...” Light trespass is defined as “light emitted from fixtures designed or instaled as to cause light to fall where it is not wanted, usually on neighbor property, motor vehicle drivers’ eyes or wasted upwards, illuminating the sky.” Dripping Springs also provides penalties for violations of its ordinance. Hall states, “For about six months, some of the residents on the north side of Norman Lane have had very bright lights shining into their houses. All efforts to get the City of Crockett to have the lights redirected have failed. The city needs an ordinance prohibiting anyone from lighting up the property of another. Failure to act will ultimately result in extensive, expensive (civil) legal action.”

 

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