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County approves night sky resolution

Thursday, August 15, 2019

On Tuesday morning, the Hays County Commissioners Court approved a resolution in support of Hays County’s effort to preserve night skies.

The resolution expresses the County’s commitment “to supporting practices that limit or minimize light trespass, glare, and skyglow from outdoor lighting to protect the beauty of the night skies and allow others the full benefit and use of their property.”

“A number of Texas Hill Country Counties have already approved similar resolutions and the fact that Hays County through its community, specifically Dripping Springs and Wimberley, which were two of the only three international dark sky communities in the state of Texas and Blanco, which is soon to submit its own application,” said Greg Webb, Chair of the Wimberley Valley Dark Sky Committee. “But the fact that the County - and through its communities — (has) taken a leadership role, I think it’s more than appropriate that we have our own resolution.”

Cindy Luongo Cassidy, who spoke on behalf of the Hays County Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists as well as the International Dark Sky Association, said that the American Medical Association and international bodies that protect health have declared light pollution a health hazard. 

“Dark sky practices not only protect our heritage of the bright stars at night here in Texas by allowing everyone to see our common view of the night sky, but those same practices reduce blinding glare and allow us to see better, making us safer,” Cassidy said. “Those same good lighting practices save money by putting light where it is needed rather than wasting it spurring upward and can also stop light trespass that annoys neighbors.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell sponsored the agenda item and expressed his support of the resolution. 

“Mr. Webb did mention that Dripping Springs, Wimberley and Wood Creek are all designated night sky communities, so I thought it was very fitting that Hays County would also join and support their efforts by this resolution,” Shell said. 

“The Commissioners Court of Hays County, Texas, encourages outdoor lighting fixtures and practices that follow up-to-date guidelines and use available technologies for efficient, non-intrusive lighting and will endeavor to educate and encourage landowners, businesses, residential neighborhoods, and public entities to join in this commitment to reduce energy consumption, save money, reduce light trespass and preserve our starry night skies,” the resolution states. 

In other business, the County approved a resolution and authorized a second grant application to the Texas Department of Transportation for a Safe Routes to School project for shared use paths near schools, which will “enable and encourage children to walk and bicycle to school.”

Likewise, the County voted to adopt a resolution in support of Hart InterCivic’s Verity Duo voting system, which was approved by the Court on July 30. 

Along with adopting a resolution in support of the system, the Court approved a series of motions that will allow Hays County to move forward with a contract with Hart following approval from the Secretary of State. 

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