Following Pluto in either event

07/22/2010 12:00 AM |

A dog doing his business on the beach and the starry night sky might not seem to have anything in common, but people who care about the quality of life in Southold Town see a connection and they’ll have a chance to explain why on Tuesday afternoon in Town Hall.
The Southold Town Board will hold public hearings beginning at 4:35 p.m. on July 27 on the adoption of two laws, one governing outdoor lighting and one requiring people to clean up after their dogs.
The lighting law was drafted in response to an international push to enact what are known as “dark skies” laws, which keep light pollution from interfering with the enjoyment of the night sky.
The law would require special shielding, or the “full cut-off” of outdoor lighting, which would ensure that all light generated by a bulb is focused on the ground, not at the sky. It also would ban floodlights, strobe lights, searchlights and blinking lights. Holiday lights would be exempt from the code but must be turned off by 12:59 a.m.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said at a July 15 community meeting at Southold Free Library that Southold’s dark skies law will grandfather all existing buildings, but property owners would be required to update their light fixtures when they apply for new building permits or undergo site plan review.
“We’re not going to ask anyone to replace fixtures they already have,” Southold Town director of planning Heather Lanza said of residential property owners. “If you have lights that are non-conforming, they can stay the same unless you’re going to do a major renovation.”
She said any expansion that would increase a property’s value more than 50 percent would trigger the need to conform to the law.
Ms. Lanza said that the town, through its site review process, for the past two years has been requiring commercial property owners to keep light from emanating beyond their property lines. The new code will give businesspeople more guidance on what types of lights are permitted.
If adopted, the law would make Southold the last of the East End towns to pass a dark skies law. Riverhead adopted the first local dark skies law in 2002, East Hampton jumped on board in 2006 and Shelter Island and Southampton adopted theirs in 2009.
The dog ordinance would require owners to clean up after their dogs on all public and private properties in Southold Town, with the exception of private properties where the dog owner has permission from the property owner to allow the dog excrement to remain. If the law is enacted, violators would face a $250 fine or a jail sentence of no more than 15 days or both.
Mr. Russell said that the law was drafted in response to new federal mandates known as “MS4