Do you live in Blanco or own a business in Blanco? Do you have one of those 175 watt mercury vapor “barn lights” installed on your property whose light shines off your property and/or above the horizontal plane (thus contributing to light pollution and nighttime sky glow above Blanco)? Did you install that fixture after February 14, 2006? If so, oops! You are most likely in violation of Section 5.12, Outdoor Lighting, of Blanco’s Unified Development Code (UDC) and could be subject to a fine not to exceed $500 per offense.
Oh, by the way, each day of violation constitutes a separate offense. In other words, once that post-February 14, 2006, illegally installed, night sky polluting barn light is brought to your attention through official City of Blanco action and you fail to fix it, you could be assessed $500 per day for each day it remains in place [UDC, Section 8.3 Penalties, (1), Generally, b and c]. Ouch!
Not to worry though. The good news is you can do the right thing and make things right before any of this happens. You just need to change out that barn light (or any other similar, unshielded outdoor lighting fixture) for one that is “hooded, shielded, and/or aimed downward” in such a way that the light it produces does not trespass “beyond property boundaries or above the horizontal plane” [UDC, Section 5.12, Outdoor Lighting, (2) General Standards, b and c].
It’s all right there in the UDC. You can read it yourself by going on the City of Blanco’s official website (www.cityofblanco.com) and clicking on the link to the Unified Development Code. You can also just go to City Hall and they can show it to you there.
It is really a pretty simple problem and, fortunately, it is one that is pretty simple to fix. You can buy an aluminum shield for about $28 that will bring your barn light into compliance. Or, better still, you can replace that outdated, energy wasting, light polluting barn light with a more energy efficient, lower wattage, night sky friendly fixture. Not only would you save Blanco’s night sky but you‘d also save yourself some real money on your electric bill… not to mention avoiding the aggravation of fighting a UDC violation.
Now, go do the right thing.
For more information on ways to reclaim and preserve Blanco’s dark sky heritage, contact Wayne Gosnell, 830-833-0586, GosnellTexas@Gmail.com.