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Owera, Empire light pollution a concern

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

Several articles in the Aug. 21 Cazenovia Republican highlighted legitimate concerns about the public events and nighttime use at Owera Vineyard. Aside from noise, traffic, parking, etc., one of particular interest to me was the problem with lights at night; that and noise seemed to be the major concerns of nearby residents.

As to lights: “Neighbors have complained about the lights leading down Owera’s driveway being too bright, pointing up rather than down” (my emphasis). This is a major problem everyplace in the world where bright lights illuminate the sky at darkness, spoiling peoples’ views of the night sky and its stars, changing our accustomed (and necessary) daily sunless cycle to a kind of peculiar and, to some, disturbing twilight.

Anyone who enjoys the unspoiled night sky knows how adversely such pollution can disturb the environment. It has an accepted and commonly-used name: light pollution. Here is a quick line about it from Wikipedia: “Light pollution competes with starlight in the night sky for urban residents, interferes with astronomical observatories, and, like any other form of pollution, disrupts ecosystems and has adverse health effects.” (To “urban residents” we can of course add: anyone afflicted with it in any community.)

Why do businesses want to point their lights up rather than down? Simple: It advertises their presence in a way nothing else can at night, and cannot at all during the day — thus the searchlight-equipped openings in big cities.

In the same Republican, there was a note in an article on a village planning board meeting at which some issues about the forthcoming brewery were discussed: “Revised items included … the use of down lighting on signage instead of up lighting. Katleski still believes up lighting will look better than down lighting, and the board said it would review the lighting requirements and research the applicant’s options further.”

Of course Mr. Katleski would like the lights to point up, for the same reason the owners of Owera vineyard do, and it would of course have the same adverse effects. Those who view the village from the lake, or from afar, would see a further deterioration in the vision of our night skies, often surpassingly beautiful here.

In my opinion residents’ rights to a natural night sky, free of the potentially harmful effects of light pollution, should outweigh a few people’s business (financial) interests.

JONATHAN HOLSTEIN

CAZENOVIA

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