Town Lighting Limitation Laws

Each town has its own lighting laws.

Every town, city and local government can adopt laws, known as ordinances, that govern the use of lights and outdoor lighting equipment within the town limits. These laws apply to any person or business in the community and can impose limitations, requirements, and penalties. These lighting ordinances vary greatly between towns. Specific outdoor lighting regulations in your town will be available from your local government. Does this Spark an idea?


Towns and cities have enacted a wide range of lighting restrictions that apply to any kind of property within the town limits. For example, Brighton, Mich., enacted a lighting ordinance designed to reduce light pollution, conserve energy and improve safety. Part of the ordinance requires that all lights must be shielded or directed toward the earth’s surface, but not reflective surfaces. Indirect light must be directed away from all adjacent properties, and light poles may be no higher than either 15 feet or the height of the building they illuminate, whichever is lower.


Town lighting laws can also allow for specific exemptions. For example, the town of Kennebunkport, Maine, requires that all lights emitting more than 1800 lumens and all flood-lights rated at 900 lumens or more may not direct light above a horizontal plane and cannot be higher than 25 feet. However, the ordinance also makes exceptions for emergency lighting and federally mandated warning lights.


Lighting ordinances usually impose specific penalties for anyone violating the lighting rules. For example, the town of Cloverland, Wis., restricts commercial properties from using flashing or rotating lights. If a property violates this rule, the city sends the property owner or occupant a notice ordering that the violation be abated immediately. While the owner can appeal the violation, violations are punishable by a $25 fee for each day the violation continues after 30 days from notification.

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