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St. Germain extends public comment period on outdoor lighting ordinance proposal


This week, the St. Germain town board decided to push discussion of a potential lighting ordinance to their March agenda.

They want to make sure there’s more time for public comments before policy action.

Scattered complaints over the years about light pollution prompted the St. Germain town board to open the question up to their community.

To “reduce lighting glare and minimize light trespass”, the town is considering creating a resolution regulating outdoor lighting.

Ted Ritter is a Supervisor of St. Germain.

“We need a little bit more time for more public comments to come in. There's no urgency here,” he explained.

Monday’s town board meeting was packed- standing room only- and there were lots of opinions on the potential ordinance.

“We listened to the comments. There were several, most of them not in favor of an ordinance. Some of them, understanding why in some instances, there are legitimate complaints about outdoor lighting, and maybe those could somehow be addressed, but they weren't in favor of a town wide ordinance,” explained Ritter.

On Facebook, the proposed ordinance received a lot of attention from commenters in the popular Vilas County Community Group, some of whom were firmly against it as a form of government overreach, and others who saw it as helpful.

Another supervisor analyzed responses received during their open comment period and found a trend in complaints.

Almost all the people with complaints of light pollution lived on a lakeshore and had waterfront lighting issues.

Ritter says that this kind of feedback helps supervisors better tailor legislation.

“It's suggesting that if there is a problem to address, it may be limited to shorelines which is good to know. We were not interested in trying to fix something that isn't broken,” he said.

“There's, I will use the term, ‘paranoia’ in the community that we are going to tell people they can't have outdoor lighting. And that's certainly not the case and was never the intent,” he said.

Discussion of the ordinance has now been pushed to the town board’s March 11th meeting.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
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