In 2009, Barrington Hills, Illinois was in the news to become the first town east of the Mississippi River to be named a dark sky city. In 2010, however, the zoning board of appeals ruled that this could not be considered again intil 2031 so that residents would not have to spend money on changing their outdoor lighting. Instead, it seems that it would have been a good idea to give people more time and maybe even some assistance to get the job done.
As awareness of how threatened our night sky resources have become steadily increases, more cities are looking at adopting ordinances intended to reduce artificial light levels. As positive as this designation would be for the environment as well as the citizens within the community, there are those that oppose it who have made their views clear to the media.
Those that oppose the adoption of ordinances to protect our dark skies sometimes cite personal freedom, safety concerns and the potential loss of thousands of dollars spent on their current lighting. However, Sarah Kenney, the Barrington Hills planning and zoning coordinator contends that our skies are just another one of our vanishing resources we need to protect. A dark sky ordinance is a measure that can preserve and protect the night time environment for future generations.
The arguments for opposition to dark sky ordinances are not unequivocal. Safety can still be addressed by utilizing low glare lighting sources and using security lights activated by motion sensors. It is also important to note that a dark sky ordinance could potentially protect the safety of all living beings from overexposure of light. It seems logical that if a citizen has thousands of dollars at their disposal to purchase lighting, then modification is also an investment that can also be made.
The right to gaze at the sky and see an unmodified view of the stars seems invaluable when compared to a view of only superfluous lighting. Obtrusive glare may be an unrewarding alternative to looking up at the night sky and seeing the Big Dipper in all its grandeur.