End of Barrington Hills light debate coming Monday?

Updated 1/18/2011 6:12 PM

Barrington Hills' long-controversial outdoor lighting ordinance could be up for its final vote on Monday, but even its most ardent opponents are at peace.

"There is a sense of calmness," said Dede Wamberg, who previously led the group Homeowners Against Lighting Ordinances (HALO) and is now one of the candidates for village trustee for the homegrown Common Sense Party.


"This (ordinance) is so watered down from what it was, we really feel we got our job done," Wamberg added. "At this point, we're going to be there to listen. There's nothing more that can be said about it. There's no more arguments that can be made."

Wamberg says the new sense of calm, born out of what was once fervent opposition, can be traced to the formation of the Common Sense Party, a slate of candidates for Barrington Hills village board who oppose the Dark Skies initiative.

Even if the final version of the ordinance proves to be something residents don't want to live with, candidates are in place with the potential to eventually repeal it, she said.

But that would entail the Common Sense candidates getting elected this April, and Village President Robert Abboud doesn't believe that will happen.

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Though HALO was the loudest voice throughout the lighting debate, Abboud remains skeptical that it represents the majority of the village.

Unlike the leadership of HALO and the Common Sense Party, Abboud believes the unique character of Barrington Hills is the product of regulatory measures like the lighting ordinance -- not the lack of regulation that these groups endorse.

However, the village board has already accepted the validity of HALO's resident petition which will require a two-thirds majority vote of the board for the lighting ordinance to pass.

But what the final version of the ordinance will be is something that's still up in the air, even after nearly a year and a half of discussion at the plan commission, zoning board and village board.

Trustees Fritz Gohl and Joseph Messer will oversee the drafting of the ordinance and ironing out inconsistencies that arose during the village board's last discussion in November.


Board members will likely receive the revision in their meeting packets on Friday.

Among the bigger issues still incomplete are whether existing homes' lighting fixtures would be grandfathered in and what exactly is the definition of security lighting, which will be exempt from maximum lighting levels.

During the zoning board's discussions, the definition of security lighting largely settled on lights that come on, either manually or automatically, in response to an emergency or intrusion.

Wamberg believes the definition has been loosened somewhat to whatever makes a particular homeowner feel secure.

Abboud said the Barrington Hills Police Department will probably have a lot of influence on the final definition.

"If all you do is turn on a whole bunch of lights, it's not particularly effective," Abboud said. "But lights on motion detectors have been shown to be more effective. The most effective thing is a working alarm system."

While Messer argued on the unfairness of not grandfathering in current residents' lighting arrangements in November, Abboud counterargued on the future unfairness of having grandfathered.

Messer could not be reached Tuesday to discuss on how the revised draft of the ordinance handles the disagreement. And Gohl said that was one aspect of the revision he was not involved with.

Unlike recent meetings on the issue held at Countryside School, dwindling crowds are bringing Monday's 7:30 p.m. meeting back to Barrington Hills village hall at 112 Algonquin Road.

Running with Wamberg for the four available trustee seats on the village board are current Trustee Beth Mallen, Steve D'Amore and Harold "Skip" Gianopulos.

The slate backed by Abboud consists of Messer, Village Clerk Karen Selman, Patty Meroni and Dawn Davis. Plan commission Chairman David Stieper is running independent of either slate, and Abboud is not up for re-election until 2013.