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Dark Sky Policy

Goal: Reduction of light pollution with a focus on night-time safety, decreasing the harmful effects on wildlife and residents, and conserving energy.

The problems of light pollution first became an issue in the 1970s when astronomers identified the degradation of the night sky due to the increase in lighting associated with development and growth. As more impacts to the environment by lighting have been identified, an international “dark sky” movement is advocating for the precautionary approach to outdoor lighting design.

Many communities have passed anti-light-pollution laws and ordinances. In passing a ‘dark sky’ ordinance, Middletown could drastically reduce light pollution and glare and lower excessive light levels. The recommended regulations for outdoor lighting could permit the use of outdoor lighting that does not exceed specified minimum levels for night-time safety, utility, security, productivity, enjoyment, and commerce; minimize adverse offsite impacts of lighting such as light trespass, and obtrusive light; curtail light pollution, reduce skyglow and improve the nighttime environment for astronomy; help protect the natural environment from the adverse effects of night lighting from gas or electric sources; and conserve energy and resources to the greatest extent possible.

Middletown will implement practical solutions to combat light pollution focusing on these three overarching areas:

Effecting Crime and Safety – The Town will encourage smart lighting that directs light where it is needed to create a balance between safety and starlight.

Disrupting the Ecosystem and Wildlife – The Town will decrease light pollution effects on wildlife and ecosystems where applicable and to the extent possible, as artificial lights disrupt the natural day-night pattern and shift the delicate balance of our environment.

Harming Human Health – Humans evolved to the rhythms of the natural light-dark cycle of day and night. The spread of artificial lighting means most of us no longer experience truly dark nights. Research suggests that artificial light at night can negatively affect human health, increasing risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, breast cancer and more.

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