CRYSTAL LAKE – The city of Crystal Lake will continue reviewing requests for LED lights on the outside of businesses in a case-by-case manner.
On Tuesday, the City Council briefly discussed whether it should change its current policy, which requires future and existing businesses to get proper approval of requests for LED lights on their buildings.
The talks were spurred by a recent request from the new owners of Culver’s of Crystal Lake, who are having the restaurant chain’s new, modern building constructed this year. The design includes LED lights that better illuminate the exterior of the building.
In that case, the Planning and Zoning Commission was not in favor of the request, but it was overruled by the council.
Members of both the commission and council raised concerns. It was noted that gas stations have applied to use similar lighting and were denied, thus creating some inconsistency in enforcing the current ordinance.
City staff presented side-by-side comparisons of chain restaurants in Crystal Lake and what they look like in other towns. A Burger King, Texas Roadhouse and movie theater in other parts of the country all were used as examples of how much light can be emitted from such establishments.
The council then reached a consensus to continue with the same review process.
“If we open the gates, we have nothing to say,” Mayor Aaron Shepley said, noting that businesses would be entitled to put up LED lights at their choosing if the city changed its current policy.
Council member Ralph Dawson agreed.
“What’s to stop them from going and changing the whole downtown?” he said. “Keep it the way it is.”
One of the goals behind the restricting of bright lights on businesses is to limit light pollution.
“Light pollution can negatively affect the community by increasing the energy consumption, disrupting the ecosystem and wildlife, harming human health and effecting crime and safety. Due to these potential negative effects, the city has incorporated lighting standards into the [ordinance],” according to a city staff document on the matter.
Council member Cameron Hubbard joked that he didn’t want the city to be visible from outer space.