The appropriate location of the lighting language can have a critical impact on its accessibility, acceptance of ownership and usage. Below is a discussion of the various choices and the relative merits of each.
Lighting ordinances are typically located in one or more of the following four places:
1. Subdivision & Land Development Ordinance (SLDO), cross referenced in Zoning Ordinance (ZO)
2. ZO, cross referenced in SLDO
3. Subdivision and land development issues in SLDO and zoning issues in the ZO
4. All issues in a stand-alone ordinance
Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Choice
Advantages – Placing the Lighting Ordinance in the SLDO puts it under the control of the governing body, planning commission and municipality’s engineer. In that location, the governing body, with advice from the planning commission and/or municipality engineer, can view the impact of the ordinance from a global, municipality-wide perspective and make informed choices as to what is important and what is not for a particular application.
Disadvantages – The zoning officer and zoning hearing board do not typically take ownership of the contents of the SLDO, even if cross-referenced in the ZO, and are therefore not typically familiar with its contents on a day-to-day basis and committed to its enforcement. For that reason it might not be used effectively for zoning violations, variances, special exception rulings and building and occupancy permits.
Advantages – Placing the lighting requirements in the ZO puts it the domain of the zoning officer and zoning hearing board. There it is well positioned to deal with zoning hearings, special exception hearings and building permit and occupancy permit applications as well as construction monitoring. The zoning officer and zoning hearing board more likely will be familiar with the document’s contents and ensure their enforcement for those applications.
Disadvantages – The governing body will not be able to waive or modify requirements or have a direct say in granting variances and imposing more strict requirements and therefore its use in subdivision and land development applications can be more cumbersome.
3. SLDO & ZO
Advantages – The lighting requirements that are appropriate to each ordinance can be tailored to that ordinance. The zoning officer and zoning hearing board take ownership of contents in the ZO. The governing body and planning commission take ownership of the contents of the SLDO.
Disadvantages – Requiring the development of two ordinances rather than one may increase the time required for development, review and passage.
4. Stand-Alone Ordinance – Zoning and subdivision requirements in one document
Advantages – Shorter potential approval cycle since it does not require county review.
Disadvantages – Because they are not referred to every day and typically maintained, stand-alone ordinances often end up on a shelf unused and therefore totally ineffective.
Clearly, the preferred choice, other things being equal, is placing zoning requirements in the ZO and subdivision and land development requirements in the SLDO. However, three Model Ordinance versions have been provided to accommodate all of the choices.