Public Input Sought for Amendments to County Dark Sky Ordinance

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Coconino County Board of Supervisors is asking for the public’s input into proposed amendments to the County’s Outdoor Lighting Standards Zoning Ordinance, commonly known as the Dark Sky Ordinance. These amendments were recommended by the County’s Community Development staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission after recent studies suggested the Ordinance be brought up to date with current lighting technology, and to mirror standards already implemented by the City of Flagstaff.

The significant amendments to the Ordinance include:

  • Reducing the three current lighting zones around observatories to two zones.
  • Changing the preferred lighting source from outdated low-pressure sodium bulbs to Narrow-Spectrum Amber LED’s.
  • While any previously permitted lighting remains valid, any 25% increase in use, new development, or lumens on existing residential property will require compliance with the new standards.

Before the next work session or public hearing, the Board would like to hear comment from County residents regarding these proposed amendments. Members of the public can view the proposed changes to the ordinance and comment here:

“As we’ve seen, dark skies are a resource to Coconino County, not only for our observatories but also for recreation,” commented Chair Jeronimo Vasquez. “It’s great to see new amendments to our standards for lighting in the County and I look forward to our next public hearing.”

Since a cooperative land use planning effort between the County, City of Flagstaff, Naval Observatory, and Arizona Army National Guard Camp Navajo was implemented in 2019, each partner has been tasked with upgrading their respective outdoor lighting standards to ensure consistency, to move away from obsolete technologies, and modernize measurement of absolute lumens to account for increased use of LED lighting.

The County’s ordinance, in place since the early 1980’s, was originally developed to minimize what is known as “light trespass” across private property lines but has also been utilized to minimize light pollution that disrupts observations of the night sky. Coconino County is home to multiple observatory sites, including Lowell Observatory and the United States Naval Observatory, which rely on consistent dark sky conditions to conduct their observations.

Stephen Pelligrini

Senior Communications Manager
County Manager’s Office

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