Townsend Committee Tackles Outdoor Lighting Bylaw Revision

In a recent meeting, the Townsend Bylaw Review Committee focused on a review of the town’s outdoor lighting bylaws, considering changes aimed at consolidating existing regulations and addressing environmental concerns. The discussion centered on whether to convert the existing zoning bylaw into a general bylaw, how to define and enforce lighting standards, and the possible repeal of zoning bylaw 14552 to avoid redundancy.

The committee debated the merits of packaging the outdoor lighting bylaws together for a two-thirds vote, aiming to create a single, unified bylaw applicable town-wide. The possibility of repealing the zoning lighting bylaw 14552 was considered integral to simplifying the regulatory framework. This would prevent the potential confusion and enforcement difficulties stemming from having two overlapping bylaws.

In discussing the proposed changes to the outdoor lighting bylaw, the members scrutinized the inclusion of definitions for environmentally sensitive areas. Questions arose about the potential vagueness and breadth of such definitions, with suggestions to refine the language to “sensitive areas with respect to species” to increase clarity. The debate extended to the setting of foot candle limits for residential and sensitive areas, exposing differing views on the necessity and practicality of such restrictions.

Enforcement language was another focal point, with deliberation on the placement of the language within the bylaw and how it might shape public perception. The roles of the Town Administrator and Building Commissioner in enforcement were discussed, as were the enforcement provisions and fines for non-compliance. Suggestions to streamline the fine structure were made in the hopes of simplifying enforcement and encouraging adherence to the bylaw.

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An aspect of the proposed changes that sparked considerable debate was the handling of existing lighting installations. The exception for decorative and holiday lighting also came under scrutiny, particularly regarding the color temperature requirements and the application of the bylaw to temporary lighting.

Beyond outdoor lighting, the committee reviewed proposed changes to the noise bylaw. Although no major revisions were made, discussions highlighted the need for clarity on exceptions, prohibitions, and the impact on different zoning districts. Concerns about potential confusion were voiced, emphasizing the need for consistency with the town’s zoning codes.

Zoning designations, particularly in the downtown commercial and neighborhood commercial districts, were also on the agenda. The committee dissected the implications of residential areas within these zones and the classification of manufacturing facilities. The deliberations included the regulation of noise, exemptions for events and permits, and the measurement of noise levels in decibels.

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The conversation on commercial and industrial activities extended to the necessity of certain permits, such as common victualer licenses for food establishments. The distinctions between various types of licenses and permits were examined, as was the topic of administrative search warrants.

In preparation for future legislative steps, the committee discussed the timeline and logistics for public hearings and town meetings. There was acknowledgment of the need for clear communication and scheduling, with a joint meeting slated for April 18 to further these efforts.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Town Administrator:
Eric Slagle
Oversight and Review Committee Officials:

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