Officials: Lighting ordinances are not bad for business
For businesses vying to attract customers by outshining their competitors, complying with an ordinance that strictly limits the amount of outdoor light they can generate might dampen their interest in locating in a community. But lighting advocates insist such ordinances can enhance a community’s appeal for businesses in the long run.
Commercial and industrial properties are the greatest offenders when it comes to light that glares or spills on to adjacent properties, lighting ordinance advocates say. Chris Luginbuhl, an astronomer who helped Flagstaff, Ariz., develop its outdoor lighting ordinance, says there are benefits of a strict outdoor lighting ordinance for businesses. “Energy savings and better appearance are all good motivators,” Luginbuhl says.
The village of Homer Glen, located southwest of Chicago, has a strict lighting ordinance, but Edmond Cage, community development director, said it has not lessened the community’s ability to attract business. The median income in the 22-square-mile village is $122,000 a year, and that is a primary reason why businesses want to be there, he says. Residents who earn such high incomes have high expectations for their community’s appearance — and Cage says glaring light is not a look they desire. “A lighting ordinance, along with a number of other ordinances such as signage, raises the standards of a community, which raises the property values, which makes that community more attractive to residents and thus to businesses,” Cage says.
Cage says he has not had any developers say they will not come into the village because of the ordinance, and he adds that making them aware of the requirements early in the development process lessens difficulties. “We push lighting to the front of the list so they (developers) can start working on it sooner,” Cage says.
Preserving the community’s rural look, Cage says, makes Homer Glen an attractive place for businesses and residents alike. “It improves the quality of life,” he says.