I was out of town and unable to attend the Aug. 1 meeting of the village of Oak Park Environment and Energy Commission (EEC) meeting. The agenda was not yet available when I left, but through the wonders of modern technology, upon returning I was able to read last week’s meeting agenda and watch the presentation on light pollution. It was timely and helpful, and I’m certainly glad I saw it.

It’s unfortunate that, during last week’s meeting, none of the members of the EEC Commission discussed any means for curtailing the minimal light pollution in residential areas you referenced in your presentation. Since 2015 and as recently as last November, some Oak Park residents and I have been advocating for the adoption of a residential exterior lighting ordinance, similar to that of the village’s commercial ordinance. Two of those other residents have had personal experiences with light pollution from neighboring property owners.

In presentations to the village board and various citizen commissions, we have cited the International Dark Sky Association’s recommendations for “Responsible Home Outdoor Lighting” and provided the commissioners copies of local residential exterior lighting ordinances adopted by other nearby communities, including Elmhurst, Barrington Hills, Homer Glen, Highland Park and Deerfield.

Regrettably, despite receiving positive feedback on the proposal, we were referred from one commission to another, beginning with the Environment and Energy Commission (EEC) through the Building Code Commission, to the Plan Commission, but all declined to include the proposed ordinance in their annual work plans. Therefore, consideration for adoption of a residential exterior lighting ordinance as part of the village code has never been presented for a vote by the village board.

Following your presentation to the E&E commissioners last week, subsequent agenda items included, “Work Plan Troubleshooting” and “New Business.” The latter agenda item specified an opportunity for letting “EEC members introduce new topics proposed for future discussion and decision making.”

In advance of any future discussion and decision making, we are seeking assistance to secure the inclusion of a residential exterior lighting ordinance in the 2024 Work Plan of the EEC and other village commissions. Is it possible that either the Adler Planetarium or the International Dark Sky Association could endorse adoption of such an ordinance by the village?

Any endorsement by either institution to the effort to reduce residential light pollution at the ground level could be extremely helpful to our advocacy efforts in Oak Park.

Christopher Donovan
Oak Park

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