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Coconino County Looks to Expand Dark Skies


Coconino County Officials are in the process of completely updating zoning codes, and are soliciting public comment about lighting and sign policy. As Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports, the proposed changes are designed to greatly expand the county’s dark sky policy.

Lighting restrictions would apply to county territory surrounding areas like the Grand Canyon, Wupatki National Monument and Rogers Lake Natural Area. Currently, there are no county lighting limits for many of these areas. Kate Morley is a planner for Coconino County.

“We should just be protecting dark skies for the sake of dark skies and when people are out in these natural areas they should be able to see the skies and it shouldn’t just be about protecting the economic interests of the observatories or their ability to do science, it should be bigger than that,” Morley said.

In addition, the code would expand the size of light restriction zones around observatories and telescopes. The proposal would increase the use of shielded lighting, which keeps fixtures pointed toward the ground.

Morley says the new light restriction zones won’t have much of an effect on private residents. But, she says it could have a financial impact on businesses, like gas stations. Details of the plan can be found on the community development page on the Coconino County website.

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