A city in North Carolina has passed a law that limits the amount of light a business can use after the sun goes down. The law was written to reduce the amount of light pollution and allow for increased star gazing opportunities. Unfortunately, the law may have some unintended consequences.
Unintended consequence #1: Safety.
Lights are an important safety concern. Illuminating an otherwise dark corner or passageway can reduce the risk of an accident or criminal activity.
In addition to simply illuminating otherwise dark areas, many businesses have outdoor spaces that are part of their operations. These businesses need proper lighting for their patrons and staff.
Unintended consequence #2: Profitability.
The law may result in decreased profitability for businesses in the area. Outdoor dining options are alluring. These outdoor spaces also allow restaurants, cafes and bars to increase the space they have available to serve patrons. A failure to provide this option could hurt the business’ bottom line.
The business can reduce this impact by fighting back.
Businesses must navigate these ordinances: Options.
There are options for businesses that find themselves subject to these ordinances. The business in the story noted above chose to simply ignore the ordinance and is now facing fines of up to $100 per day. In some cases, public comments are welcomed when a new ordinance is under consideration. It is wise to voice concerns during this time.
Seek legal counsel in the event the ordinance becomes law and your business is facing allegations of violating the ordinance. An attorney experienced with land use and zoning issues can guide you through the process and work with your business to help meet your goals.