Alexandria City Council Adopts Ordinance to Improve Lighting Conditions at Athletic Complexes

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ALEXANDRIA, VA–At its regular meeting on October 13, the Alexandria City Council voted 6-1 to allow athletic complexes to improve lighting conditions while decreasing light pollution in surrounding areas. The amendment to the City’s Zoning Ordinance allows for an increase of light poles to a maximum of 80 feet when it can be demonstrated that the additional height will reduce the effects of glare and light spillage, and subject to approval by City Council following a public input process and public hearing. A higher light fixture can allow lighting to be directed more sharply downward to reduce the impact on surrounding areas.

Conventional athletic or recreational lighting using shorter poles typically floods an area with light and is less effective at controlling glare on adjacent properties. Using shorter poles to light a large area also requires the lighting to be aimed somewhat horizontally, causing glare for users of the facility, glare and light spillage onto surrounding properties, and unnecessary reflected light into the night sky.

Existing regulations pertaining to lighting still apply, and Development Special Use Permit applications will continue to require photometric analyses that indicate lighting levels on the property and beyond property lines onto adjacent properties. Any modification or addition of lighting in public parks would also be subject to approval by City Council following a public input process and public hearing.

The amendment does not affect existing facilities, nor does it allow such a facility or lighting unless it is already a permitted use in the underlying zoning district.