Email signup

County sets hearings on proposal to reduce light around Turner Farm Observatory

The roll-top observatory at Turner Farm Park (courtesy Fairfax County Park Authority)

Fairfax County is exploring ways to preserve dark skies around Turner Farm Park Observatory in Great Falls.

At a Tuesday (Sept. 12) meeting, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors announced public hearings on a proposed regulation that would limit outdoor lighting within a half-mile of the observatory at 925 Springvale Road.

A hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission is set for Oct. 18, followed by a Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Nov. 21.

If approved, the amendment would apply to 525 lots near the observatory.

The Fairfax County Police Department “has advised that proper lighting can be a deterrent for criminal activity, but over-lighting is not needed to facilitate a safe environment,” according to a staff report in the board agenda.

Staff say light pollution interferes significantly with the ability to complete astronomical observations at the observatory. For example, a single light bulb located one half-mile from the observatory has the same impact as four bulbs one mile away or almost 200 bulbs in Tysons, which is roughly seven miles away.

According to the draft proposal, motion-activated lights must be 1,500 lumens or less — a drop from the current limit of 4,000 lumens or less. Additionally, all lights need to be fully cut off, which is currently not required.

Still, an exception will remain allowing lights at a door or a garage of up to 1,500 lumens per fixture.

The regulation would also set limits on the number of up lights or spotlights allowed. Currently, any number are allowed as long as they are fully cut off or shielded to confine light. The changes would limit each fixture to 300 lumens.

The draft text was developed after several town halls and an online community survey. The scope of the proposal was changed after discussions with stakeholders.

For example, the current version lets legally existing lights remain until replaced, superseding a previous version that required existing lights to comply within five years of the policy’s implementation.

In a statement to FFXnow, a Great Falls Citizens Association representative said the introduction of the proposal represents a milestone after eight years of works.

“This has special significance for the Turner Farm, where the Fairfax County Park Authority made a major investment in a roll-top astronomy building,” GFCA said in a statement. “If adopted, the proposed amendment will affect the brightness of future outdoor lighting of homes within a one-half mile radius of the county’s observatory.”

GFCA also acknowledged that, while not all residents in the affected area will agree with the county’s plans, county staff made “significant changes in the proposed requirements.”

“GFCA believes that the amendment offers reasonable measures to address concerns while preserving dark skies near the observatory,” the association said.

Recent Stories

Cirque Du Soleil is coming back to Fairfax next month. The theatrical aerobatic spectacle is performing eight shows at George Mason University’s Eagle Bank Arena from May 17-25. This year’s…

The Fairfax County Police Department is seeking a suspect possibly connected to three robberies in which the man used pepper spray against store employees. Police said the latest incident occurred…

Police are investigating the the fatal shooting of a woman who died at Mount Vernon Hospital last night. The Fairfax Police Department said around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday night the…

Morning Notes

Cat declawing to be banned in Virginia — “Veterinarians will not be allowed to declaw cats in Virginia starting in July, unless there are certain ‘therapeutic’ reasons to do so.” [ABC8]…

Unlike our competitors, Well-Paid Maids doesn’t clean your home with harsh chemicals. Instead, we handpick cleaning products rated “safest” by the Environmental Working Group, the leading rating organization regarding product safety.

The reason is threefold.

First, using safe cleaning products ensures toxic chemicals won’t leak into waterways or harm wildlife if disposed of improperly.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

There’s a reason Well-Paid Maids has hundreds of positive reviews from happy clients in the D.C. area.

The home cleaning company pays cleaners — who are W-2 employees — a living wage starting at $24 an hour. Plus, cleaners are offered benefits, including insurance, 24 paid days off a year, 100% employer-paid commuting costs and more.

Lexi Grant, an operations manager at Well-Paid Maids, said it best: “People deserve their work to be respected and recognized. When that happens, you love what you do, and you create the best results.”

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Dream, Design, Build: Home Expo 2024

Sponsored by ABW Appliances & Eden, join us for a one-of-a-kind Home Expo event on May 11th from 10AM to 4PM!

The DMV’s top experts — AKG Design Studio and GMJ Construction — are opening their doors to homeowners to

Ravel Dance Company presents The Sleeping Beauty at Capital One…

Be transported to the magical kingdom of Princess Aurora, where the wicked Carabosse casts a curse that dooms the Princess and her entire kingdom. Set to the spectacular Tchaikovsky score, this beloved classic will sweep you away with its beauty,

×

Subscribe to our mailing list