Planning commission to discuss increase in stadium lighting height requirements

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By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

The planning commission will discuss at an Oct. 2 public hearing whether they will permit construction of taller light poles at city recreational facilities.

The change is proposed in a text amendment (#2018-0007) that would allow for lighting at congregate recreational facilities to be up to 80 feet with a special use permit. The text amendment would also clarify the definition of “congregate recreational facilities,” which would include athletic fields, dog parks, swimming pools and other recreational areas that require an expanse of unobstructed area.

Existing height regulations are 40 feet for schools and churches and 60 feet for schools with a special use permit.

At the hearing, the planning commission will also review a proposal for a development special use permit for the Parker-Gray Stadium Modernization at T.C. Williams. The DSUP includes a request for a special use permit for light poles up to 80 feet if the text amendment is approved, and a special use permit for poles up to 60 feet if the text amendment is not approved.

Director of Planning and Zoning Karl Moritz said the purpose of the height regulation increase is to reduce light spillage into neighboring properties, since higher poles can direct light more downward rather than outward. 

The Seminary Hill Association Inc. sent out a press release accusing the city of fast-tracking a plan to put lighting on all athletic fields, public and private.

Moritz emphasized that even though the text amendment would increase the height potential at stadiums to 80 feet, projects would still be required to go before the planning commission and city council to seek approval for a special use permit.

The planning commission will meet on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. in council chambers.

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