Integrity of observatory a concern for its president

July 23, 2005|by TRISH RUDDER

The Morgan County Observatory can see a "big glow in the sky that comes from Martinsburg," said Kevin Boles, Morgan County Observatory president.

He told the Morgan County Commission on Friday that the observatory site in the Greenwood area on W.Va. 13 was chosen because it "was dark," and he wants to keep it that way.

Boles said he is concerned that the area is building up fast and streetlights from new developments will interfere with the observatory. He said light pollution is wasteful and improper lighting creates problems.


Boles asked the commissioners if there was an ordinance that could be enforced for the use of "intelligent lighting" around the observatory.

He said there are "dark-skies approved" lighting that the industry makes, and the price is comparable to those light fixtures that create a lot of glare.

He said it's the type of lighting fixtures used that keeps the glare down. It's "not the number of fixtures used," he said.

Glen Stotler, the commission president said there are no current ordinances that would apply.

Commissioner Bob Ford said the scope of subdivision regulations is "very limited and it mostly falls under public safety."

Ford said the pamphlet that Boles provided to encourage good lighting is given out with every building permit.

Alma Gorse, the Morgan County Planner, said, "We also have Kevin's ideas included in the comprehensive plan."

Stotler said the planning commission should be worked with to help accomplish what Boles wants.

"Can we move a little further without being restrictive to use certain kinds of lighting?" Stotler asked.

Gorse said the property owners associations of the subdivisions can instruct people.

"That is the way to go without being restrictive to preserve the integrity of the observatory," Stotler said.

"New lights are more efficient and not more expensive. If people are directed that way, we are not restricting them," Boles said.

Stotler suggested Boles contact the other observatories in the state to see what they have done, and Gorse told Boles to submit his comprehensive plan to the commission along with what he learns from the other observatories.

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