Aspen Heights Might Affect Dark Skies

Nov 20, 2014

With the Flagstaff City Council’s approval of the Aspen Heights student housing project some people are raising concerns over how it will affect the area’s dark skies. As Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports, the development could comprise dark sky guidelines under the Flagstaff regional plan

U.S. Naval Observatory
Credit United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station

The Flagstaff regional plan limits the amount of light near observatories. While the project off West Route 66 does not break any city ordinances, it will use more light than other residential areas close to the U.S. Naval Observatory. Chris Luginbuhl is a former employee of the Observatory, and helped write Flagstaff’s original dark sky ordinance. While he doesn’t speak for the navy, he does have concerns about the development’s effect on local dark skies.   

“The regional plan both the old one and the new one recognize this potential, and say quite clearly that when re-zonnings are considered in this critical area, that the impact on the total amount of light usage must be considered and should be mitigated,” Luginbuhl said.

But, Flagstaff’s planning development manager, Tiffany Antol, says the city is considering the regional plan in relation to the Aspen Heights development. She also says project managers have recently decreased the amount of planned light use to residential status for the majority of its nearly 40 acres. A zoning meeting on Aspen Heights is scheduled for December 2nd.