Nothing to Make Light Of

By. John Haksch, Louisa Field Officer

A sharply divided Board of Supervisors in Louisa County agreed, after lengthy debate, to allow staffers to investigate what actions are taken in other jurisdictions, statewide, to abate light pollution or ‘nuisance lighting’ complaints in residential neighborhoods.

clip_image002The issue was brought to the board by Supervisor Dan Byers (Jackson District), on behalf of a constituent, in order to discuss the possibility of creating an ordinance to address the issue. On questioning, county staffer Jeremy Camp, Director of Community Development, stated that this was the first and only complaint of this nature in the county. Supervisor Tommy Barlow (Mountain Road District) voiced the sentiments of those on the board who were opposed in principle to the legislation of more restrictions on citizens’ rights by adding residential or agricultural properties to those areas already covered by so-called ‘dark sky’ ordinances that are in force for commercially zoned properties. A consensus was reached to expand the investigation by county staff – for informational purposes only – regarding existing ordinances or regulations in a wider region than originally examined, since adjacent jurisdictions had no codified restrictions of property lighting other than for properties zoned commercial.

The Board returned to the question of funding the maintenance and replacement of buoys for Lake Anna as was requested at a previous meeting by representatives of the Lake Anna Community Association (LACA). Members questioned a document circulated by LACA which stated that one of the reasons for requesting funds from the county through the Lake Anna Advisory Committee (LAAC) was to promote the perception of county liable for any legal actions resulting from the presence or lack of buoys anywhere in the county portion of the lake. Supervisor P. T. Spencer (Louisa District) introduced a motion to deny the funding request for this reason, as well as the lack of itemized documentation of expenditures for past contributions by the county, and the lack of any documentation of exactly which buoys – whether they are channel markers, safety buoys, no-wake markers – the funds are intended to maintain. The door was left open to revisit the issue if LACA were to address the perceived deficiencies in their request.

Jeremy Camp introduced sweeping amendments to the zoning ordinances, proposed by the Planning Commission, that are ostensibly intended to clarify allowed uses in agricultural and other districts. Dissenting opinion saw the changes as being open to interpretation as a more rigid restriction on allowed uses in that any use not specifically enumerated in the zoning ordinances would be automatically prohibited. Mr. Camp insisted, however, that no currently allowable uses would be impacted by the changes. The board adopted the changes on a vote of 7 – 0.

The 2011 voting district changes do not encompass any significant changes in the demographics of any district beyond the shifting of voting district boundaries to balance each district’s population as mandated by state and federal law. clip_image002There was a slight reduction in the percentage of minority population in three of seven districts and a lesser increase in the other four districts, due to the diminution of the minority population in the county as a whole, from 21.6% in 2000 to the present 17.7%. The proposed changes to the voting districts were adopted on a vote of 7 – 0 and forwarded to the Department of Justice.

John Haksch is the Louisa County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.  If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum.  To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org

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