Big changes for Barrington Hills lighting law

Updated 11/22/2010 11:29 PM

Barrington Hills officials Monday suggested major changes to a controversial outdoor lighting ordinance while acknowledging the validity of a resident petition requiring two-thirds of the village board to pass the law.

Trustees will work with Village Attorney Donald Wambach to draft a new version of the ordinance for consideration Dec. 20.


The new draft will be based on suggestions publicly made by board members Monday, but ironed out where contradictions occurred.

Perhaps the most significant suggestion, from Trustee Joseph Messer, was to simply do away with a 20-year grace period for current residents to comply with the new regulations and instead grandfather them in with their present outdoor lighting levels.

Village President Robert Abboud said he understood Messer's argument about the unfairness of having lighting fixtures, for which residents paid lots of money, being made illegal after the fact. But he also saw an unfairness issue in having some homes grandfathered and others not in decades to come.

The petition to force five of the seven village board members to vote in favor of the ordinance to pass it was presented by the opposition group HALO Homeowners Against Lighting Ordinances.

The petition claimed to represent the owners of a total of 3,985 acres of the village's land, surpassing the 20 percent or 3,492 acres required for such a protest.

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Wambach said the petition appeared to meet the legal requirements to force the supermajority vote, though he hadn't been directed to scrutinize the validity of each signature and amount of land owned.

Trustee Steve Knoop pointed out several examples of where he said the amount of acreage claimed by property owners differed significantly from what was on the tax rolls.

But Abboud said he preferred to accept the petition as valid and received no formal objection from any trustee.

"I think we won," said HALO co-organizer Dede Wamberg. "They certified the petition."

In doing so, Wamberg said the board essentially acknowledged how many people in the village are against the increased lighting regulations.

Though she found some things to like in Monday's discussion, she balked at the suggestion that the grandfathering of today's lighting levels would require all homeowners to register them.

"If we have to register our lights, what's the next thing we have to register?" she said.

Board members also suggested other ways of loosening up the original draft of regulations particularly in regard to security lighting but still preferred most "unnecessary," decorative lighting be shut off by 11 p.m.