Oro Valley business signs to remain dark at night - Tucson News Now

Oro Valley business signs to remain dark at night

By Teresa Jun - email

ORO VALLEY (KOLD) - Oro Valley's town council voted down a proposed motion to allow businesses to keep their company signs lit at night.

Currently, the town requires businesses to turn off the lights on their signs no later than one hour after closing time.

For a business like Flynn Dentistry, which closes at 5:00pm, that means the sign on its exterior must not be lit after 6:00pm.  Dr. James Flynn would like the council to relax the ordinance to allow his sign to stay lit all night, so it would be visible to evening traffic -- serving to advertise his business to potential clients who may not otherwise notice its presence.

"That way, people can see us when they drive by," Dr. Flynn said, explaining how increased exposure could lead to increased business for him.  "We want people to recognize that there is a dental office here."

But some citizens, including members of the astronomy community, worry that lit signs at night will create light pollution in our local skies.

"We can't do our job unless the skies are dark," explained Ed Beshore, principal investigator with the Catalina Sky Survey.  Beshore searches the skies for asteroids headed toward the earth.  "Some of these asteroids are very faint, and if we have brighter skies, it makes it much more difficult to find these faint objects."

Besides the scientific value of his work, Beshore argues there is economic value in the industry as well, as NASA pumps millions of dollars into astronomy projects here.  "It's a huge economic impact," he said.  "And that impact would be lessenned if our skies were to get lighter, because we couldn't do our jobs."

As a compromise, council members considered the idea of allowing businesses signs to stay lit until 10:00pm, or until the business closes for the night -- whichever comes later.  But after debate and discussion Wednesday evening, the motion was voted down, on the grounds of wanting to revisit the issue in a more comprehensive way.  Staff and council will bring the issue back to the table in November.

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