The Shelter Island town board passes the Dark Skies law by a 3-2 vote. All outdoor lighting on shelter island must be muted between sundown and sunrise.
Shetler Island, the little island between the North and South fork, has been the scene of big controversy recently. Many of its residents were outraged by Shelter Island’s town board 3-2 decision to pass the Dark Skies law.
The law, passed by Supervisor Jim Dougherty, Councilwoman Chris Lewis, and Councilman Peter Reich, states there may be no lighting between sundown and sunrise. The board acted on the law before the purchase and installation of expensive outdoor fixtures by some of its residents.
The passing of the law in the town board room was met with public outrage and even some applause after the final tally. Many residents didn’t agree with the law because they felt the little town was never littered with light pollution at night anyway. Still, whether you agree or disagree, anyone who fails to follow the provisions of the law are to be fined $100 to $500.
In an interview with CBS, Supervisor James Dougherty said of the law, “We came up with a very reasonable and calm law that will preserve our dark skies while we still have them.”
The law mutes porchlights and says they must be aimed down and not up. They also prohibit floodlights and any lights that go across property lines. Temporary lighting like barbeque tiki torches aren’t included in Dark Skies’ provisions. The town hopes the new law will clear the way for free flowing stars in the night sky and a cut down of energy.
The town remains divided over the lighting law. “It’s too much government intrusion.” Said Councilman Ed Brown to CBS. “I’d rather see the community work together instead of against each other.” Shelter Island isn't the first Long Island town out east to pass such a law though. In 2009, Southhampton's town board passed a Dark Skies law at a four to one decision.