As the town looks to update its codes in line with the recommendations of the town comprehensive plan, recent building proposals before the town have pushed some issues to the forefront.
Whether a light pole is a structure was the question running through the proper department channels over the last month. Last week, town attorneys and building department heads answered the question and filed their interpretation of town code with Town Clerk Elizabeth DelTorto.
The interpretation identifies a light tower as a structure.
Light poles have never been regulated as such, said Michael Rosch, town building department director. `If the building department regulates light poles as a structure that means that light poles in residential and commercial zones would have to go before the ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) for a variance.`
The new interpretation would no longer list light poles as accessory structures. Town officials will have to go back to the books to write exemptions for residential properties. Likewise, the code will no longer pass light poles off as accessories to athletic fields, amongst other uses, said Rosch.
However, most light towers that came before town planners were well below 40 feet or were exempt because they were either public school or town structures.
One project before the town will be taking on the interpretation as it looks to expand upon its athletic fields.
Last month, Siena College in Loudonville was before town planners proposing a new artificial turf athletic field with lighting and public address system. Residents near the private college were skeptical of the new field and the noise and spill-off light that could come of it. They took a special interest in the college’s proposal to install four 90-foot light poles to illuminate the field.
The light poles were already a topic of discussion in town departments before the college made it before planners, said Town Attorney Arnis Zilgme. Some were asking whether or not 90 feet was too high for a residential area, he said.
`We were asked to review whether a light pole 90 feet tall would violate code,` said Zilgme. The attorney’s office opinion was: `if it is over 40 feet in height it is a structure and it needs a variance.`
NCAA requirements mandate that collegiate athletic fields be lit to a certain degree. To meet those requirements and college needs,
Siena is proposing the four 90-foot towers with 21 fixtures per pole.
By design, the lights have little spill-off light after a certain distance. College officials have assured nearby residents that light over their property would be minimal. Discussions with neighbors prior to the proposal led to the establishment of hours of operations and limited games under the lights throughout the sports season.
Attempts to reach Siena athletic officials were unsuccessful.“