Town of Charlestown, RI
Washington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Added 6-11-2012 by Ord. No. 347]
The Town of Charlestown has enacted this ordinance to regulate the installation of outdoor lighting in order to achieve the following purposes:
A. 
To protect the existing unique qualities of Charlestown's dark sky for astronomy and enjoyment purposes and to continue to attract tourism;
B. 
To protect the residents and surrounding environment, including light sensitive plants and animals, from the effects of light pollution;
C. 
To promote energy efficient and sustainable lighting practices and luminaires;
D. 
To minimize adverse off-site impacts from new and existing lighting installations; and
E. 
To permit reasonable uses of outdoor lighting for safety, security, productivity, commerce and enjoyment.
DARK SKY
Ability to visually identify, without aid, zodiacal light, a prominently bright defined Milky Way, bright star clusters in our galaxy and bright galaxies.
INTERNATIONAL DARK SKY ASSOCIATION
Established in 1988 as an educational, environmental 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to protecting and preserving the nighttime environment and the heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting. With thousands of members in more than 70 countries, IDA is the leading authority concerning the problems and solutions related to light pollution.
LIGHT, DIRECT
Light emitted directly from the lamp, off of the reflector or reflector diffuser, or through the refractor or diffuser lens, of a luminaire.
LIGHT FIXTURE, FULL CUT-OFF TYPE
A luminaire or light fixture that, by design of the housing, does not allow any light dispersion or direct glare to shine above a 90 degree horizontal plane from the base of the luminaire.
LIGHT, FULLY SHIELDED
Fully shielded luminaire light fixture which can control the glare in any direction.
LIGHT GLARE
Light emitting from a luminaire with intensity great enough to reduce a viewer's ability to see.
LIGHT, INDIRECT
Direct light that has been reflected or has scattered off of surfaces other than those associated with the light fixture.
LIGHTING, OUTDOOR
The nighttime illumination of an outside area or object by any manufactured device located outdoors that produces light by any means.
LIGHT POLLUTION
Stray or reflected light that is emitted into the atmosphere above the 90-degree horizontal plane from the luminaire, and which can or does cause unwanted sky glow or which can or is seen from an abutting property.
LIGHT TRESPASS
Direct light from an artificial light source on one property that is intruding into an area where it is not wanted or does not belong.
LUMINAIRE
A complete lighting system, including a light source component (lamp or lamps that produce the actual light) and a fixture.
LUMINAIRE, HEIGHT OF
The vertical distance from the ground directly below the center line of the luminaire to the lowest direct-light-emitting part of the luminaire.
TARGET AREA
The location of the target which is to be hit by the light source.
UPLIGHTING
Any light source that distributes illumination above a 90-degree horizontal plane.
A. 
New Installations. All outdoor lighting, with the exception of lighting and/or light fixtures installed on a structure and/or property devoted exclusively to single family residential use, installed after the effective date of this ordinance shall conform to the standards set forth herein.
B. 
Existing Installations. All outdoor lighting installed prior to the effective date of this ordinance shall be exempt from the provisions of this ordinance until a light and/or light fixture must be repaired, modified, refurbished and/or replaced. At the occurrence of any of these several events, any light and/or light fixture, with the exception of lighting and/or light fixtures installed on a structure and/or property devoted exclusively to single family residential use, shall conform to the standards set forth herein.
C. 
Voluntary Actions. As a voluntary measure to further the goals and objectives of this ordinance, the Town Council urges that the following actions be considered and taken to bring all lights and/or light fixtures into compliance with the standards and provisions of this ordinance:
(1) 
Install a replacement dark sky compatible lamp.
(2) 
Consider light and light fixture aiming or glare control devices such as light shields to prevent and/or reduce light trespass and light pollution.
(3) 
All government-owned and operated properties and facilities are urged to immediately conform to the provisions of this ordinance.
(4) 
Lighting for site security should be configured for motion or infrared sensor operation, except in the case of lighting required by state or federal safety standards, property insurance coverage requirements or site safety standards.
All new, retrofitted, refurbished and/or modified outdoor lighting that is installed in the Town of Charlestown, with the exception of lighting and/or light fixtures installed on a structure and/or property devoted exclusively to single family residential use, shall be the minimum necessary, in both number of luminaires and intensity of light, to achieve the intended purpose of the lighting, and shall meet the following standards, as relevant:
A. 
All exterior lights and sign illumination shall be designed, located, installed and directed in such a manner as to:
(1) 
Prevent glare, light trespass or light pollution; and
(2) 
Be shielded to the extent possible so as to confine the light within the target area.
B. 
In all areas adjacent to residential property, no externally mounted, direct light source directed towards the property line shall be visible at the property line at ground level or above.
C. 
To reduce off-site glare, lighting fixtures for all parking and pedestrian areas shall be:
(1) 
Full cut-off type fixtures, or
(2) 
Fully shielded/recessed fixtures where the lens is recessed or flush with the bottom surface.
D. 
Lighting fixtures for building security or aesthetics and any display purposes shall be:
(1) 
Top downward (not upward or sideways), and
(2) 
Full cut off or fully shielded/recessed.
E. 
Where outdoor playing fields or other special outdoor activity areas are to be illuminated, lighting fixtures shall be specified, mounted and aimed so that:
(1) 
The lighting fixture's beams fall within the primary playing area and immediate surroundings, and
(2) 
No direct lighting trespass or light pollution.
F. 
The height of luminaires, except streetlights in public rights-of-way, shall be the minimum necessary to provide adequate illumination, but shall not exceed a height of fifteen (15) feet when pole mounted unless a properly credentialed illuminating engineer hired for the benefit of the Town finds that a height of any luminaire structure up to twenty (20) feet will result in no greater Light Trespass and no greater Light Pollution than a luminaire structure at fifteen feet (15) in height or unless the luminaires must overhang vehicle travel lanes. Luminaires attached to the building shall be limited to the height necessary for illumination of entrances or locations not served by pole lighting. In no case shall a building fixture be mounted on the roof.
[Amended 8-20-2012 by Ord. No. 352]
Outdoor lighting in and around the ponds, lakes, rivers, and other waters of the Town, with the exception of lighting located below the mean high water mark of coastal areas, shall not be installed or maintained so as to create a hazard or nuisance to other property owners and shall comply with the following:
A. 
Lights on docks shall be no more than three feet above the dock, shall be directed downward and be full cut off fixtures.
B. 
Lights illuminating paths, stairs, decks, etc., shall not be directed towards the water and shall not direct light upwards.
C. 
All exterior lighting shall be located, mounted and shielded, so that direct illumination is not focused towards the water surface more than 20 feet from shore.
A. 
All fixtures shall be aimed and/or shielded to illuminate only the target area such that no stray light from the luminaire passes above the horizontal plane.
B. 
Upward aimed façade and building lighting shall be fully shielded and fully confined from projecting into the sky by the building eaves, roofs, overhangs or structures and shall be mounted as flush with the illuminated wall as possible.
Outdoor sales and gas station service canopy lighting shall be aimed downward and installed such that the center of the fixture's luminous opening is flush with or recessed into the canopy ceiling. All lighting from the canopy must be substantially confined to the ground area directly beneath the perimeter of the canopy. All exterior lighting for canopies and/or service areas shall be of an indirect nature, emanating only from fixtures located under canopies, under eaves on the principal building or at ground level in the landscaping. Exterior lighting shall be arranged and shielded so there shall be no glare or reflections onto adjacent properties or street rights-of-way.
In addition to the requirements of this ordinance, all signs shall also comply with the provisions of § 218-63 of the Zoning Ordinance, as applicable. The Building Official shall determine compliance with the provisions of this ordinance.
A. 
Illuminated signs shall not cause glare distracting to drivers, nor shall they be in such a position or such color as will hamper the readability of traffic lights or traffic signs.
B. 
Signs may be illuminated externally by a downward-directed stationary light. Sign lighting shall not be directed upwards unless the sign is affixed to the side of the building and is fully shielded and fully confined from projecting into the sky.
C. 
The requirements of this section are for the lighting of signs only. Article XI of the Charlestown Zoning Ordinance regulates signs and shall be used in conjunction with this section.
All flagpole lighting shall be from the top of the pole downward, no up-lighting of the flagpole is permitted.
This ordinance shall be enforced by the Building Official of the Town of Charlestown, who shall interpret, administer and enforce its provisions. The Building Official shall investigate suspected violations and issue notices of violation requiring corrective action, and shall have the ability to assign penalties for noncompliance.