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Lights Out: Long Island town passes "dark skies" law, restricting outdoor lights at night

(CBS) SHELTER ISLAND, N.Y. - The historic, environmentally conscious town of Shelter Island, N.Y. is "going dark" between sunset and sunrise, after officials approved a controversial new ordinance.

CBS New York reports the so-called "dark skies" law to restrict outdoor lighting at night was passed after sharp debate.

The station says the aim of the measure on Long Island's smallest town is two-fold: make the night sky more visible and conserve energy.

"We came up with a very reasonable and calm law that will preserve our dark skies while we still have them," Supervisor James Dougherty said.

Among the law's restrictions, according to CBS New York, porch and landscape lights must be muted, floodlights are forbidden, and no more shedding light across property lines

"Darkness is not the enemy. It isn't necessary for security. You don't need to light your property so you're safe," Shelter Island Councilwoman Christine Lewis said.

Far from all of the island town's approximately 2,000 residents are happy about the change.

"I would like not to have government telling me every move I should make," one resident said.

"I wouldn't like to be told what I can do in my own home about putting up lights," another told CBS New York.

"It's too much government intrusion. I'd rather see the community work together instead of against each other," Councilman Ed Brown said.

Town Supervisor Dougherty said that while homeowners don't want big brother, but they are also environmental leaders and see the benefits of darkness for animals and plants.

Some residents are asking about lighting up backyards with barbeques and torches. According to the new town code such "temporary" lighting is excluded from the dark skies law.

Shelter Island leaders said the United States alone wastes $2 billion a year in energy costs, due to "over-lighting."

  • Barry Leibowitz

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