Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Planning Commission


November 8, 2007

Staff Lead:


Kimberley Johnson, Zoning Administrator 

Community Development 


A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Sections 9-1006 and 9-1007 to Address Lighting Standards for Greenhouses


Topic Description:

This proposed text amendment requires that greenhouse lights be screened.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached Ordinance.


Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.


Summary Staff Report: 

The proposed text amendment is intended to address potential impacts to dark skies and adjoining properties and roadways caused by greenhouses being lit at night.  A recent site plan application for an extensive commercial greenhouse operation brought to staff’s attention that the existing regulations do not clearly control light emitted from greenhouses, even though such light has significant potential impacts.    That site plan, for New Day Farms, includes over 7 acres of greenhouses.

Such impacts are not clearly addressed by the current ordinance because of two issues.  One, the existing Zoning Ordinance regulations specifically limit only “outdoor” light.  Greenhouse lights are technically interior lights, but because a greenhouse is typically built from transparent materials, such interior lights create potential impacts similar to outdoor lighting.  Therefore, an amendment is necessary to extend lighting limits to interior greenhouse lights.   Second, the existing Zoning Ordinance regulations exempt agricultural use structures from all lighting regulations.  Because the Zoning Ordinance definition of “Agriculture” specifically excludes commercial greenhouses, it is the Zoning Administrator’s interpretation that greenhouses would be subject to the lighting regulations, if not for the fact that the lights are interior.  However, because the Zoning Ordinance also lists greenhouse uses under “Category 18, Agricultural Uses” additional language is proposed to clarify that greenhouses are not exempt from lighting requirements.

As proposed, the language prohibits greenhouses from being lit at night unless screened to protect dark skies and adjoining properties.  The language would apply to any new greenhouses built in the County. 

The Planning Commission initiated the proposed text amendment on August 30, 2007.   After a public hearing was held by the Planning Commission on the text amendment on September 27, 2007, the Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval.

Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Department of Economic Development


Proposed Revisions to the Zoning Ordinance.


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