Two months after Bellaire City Council advised city staff to make revisions and suggestions to its proposed lighting ordinance, council members adopted an amended ordinance on Dec. 18 that will apply solely to new residential and commercial developments within the city.

Although the new ordinance only affects future development, council members said they will take up matters regarding lighting at existing development at a future council meeting.

At Mayor Andrew Friedberg’s last council meeting before incoming Bellaire Mayor Gus Pappas takes over in January, Friedberg expressed concern regarding the possible government overreach of personal freedoms with certain language within the ordinance.

“Do we delay action on the entire thing or adopt something moving forward with the intention to not have a permanent blanket exception for existing lighting?" he asked.

The details

Certain outdoor lighting, according to the ordinance, would not be regulated, including:

  • Lighting within the public right of way that illuminates streets or roads
  • Lighting used by police, fire, emergency or utility work personnel
  • Lighting required by law to be installed on motor vehicles

Prohibitions include:

  • Outdoor lighting that results in light trespass, including the direct beam of any such light, upon any lot, tract, parcel of land, or other private property in excess of 0.2 foot candles
  • The use of laser source light, searchlights, flashing and/or rotating lights, or any similar high intensity light for outdoor advertising or entertainment
  • Any exterior lighting in the city trespassing upon any lot, tract, or parcel of land in excess of 0.2 foot candles
  • Exterior lighting of any kind mounted on a building, extending above the building roof line, unless otherwise specifically allowed

Friedberg clarified penalty responsibilities in the ordinance's language saying that the language is broad enough that penalties would fall upon the person found in violation of the lighting ordinance at the time of the incident.

  • The fine, according to the draft, would be no less than $150 for the first offense, which would be considered a misdemeanor, and no less than $500 for any subsequent offense.
  • For each day in which the violation occurs, the responsible party would incur a separate offense.

Going forward

Development Services Director Travis Tanner said that the process to ensure compliance with residents and business owners will take time.

"We have to work with people at the end of the day to bring things in compliance," Tanner said.

According to agenda documents, city staff will monitor the ordinance's impact over the next six to 12 months and, if changes are needed, bring them to city council for consideration.