Minturn’s future won’t be bright |

Minturn’s future won’t be bright

Dustin Racioppi
Minturn, CO Colorado

MINTURN, Colorado ” Minturn may become a great place for star gazers and phobophiles to make a home now that the Town Council is considering a ‘dark sky’ ordinance.

There are several factors behind creating the ordinance ” part of it is safety and another is to keep people safe from their neighbor’s megawatt beacons shining into neighborhood bedroom windows.

Interim Town Manager Gary Suiter said it’s a good idea “so you don’t get something that looks like ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.'”

But as Assistant Town Planner Chris Cerimele said, “the major one is the preservation of the night sky.”

Cerimele pulled ordinances from neighboring Vail as well as Ketchum, Idaho, to give the council examples of what has worked well in other towns that have passed dark sky ordinances. The ordinances restrict certain types of exterior lighting that isn’t too bright, obnoxious or that interferes with public health and safety.

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“For me, the greatest priority for this is safety,” Councilman Matt Scherr said.

He said for people walking down the streets, it’s dangerous to walk from a dark area into a bright one, then back into the dark because peoples’ eyes don’t adjust that quickly. The same goes for places like gas stations with daytime-like brightness, he said.

There’s many questions left to be answered about how Minturn’s ordinance will work out. The council decided it would start with making the ordinance effective for just new developments and home alterations, but how it will be enforced or how to even develop the ordinance is unknown.

Councilwoman Lorraine Haslee said even if the ordinance is adopted, it would still be hard to keep bright, intruding lights down without enforcement. The Minturn Police Department has a staff of three that already spends much of its time tied up in larger issues.

“If a con of this is enforcement, it seems like a double-edged sword,” she said. “Personally, if it’s already a negative and we’re having a problem with these things, I don’t see why we’re setting ourselves up for that.”

Councilman Jerry Bumgarner said no matter what comes of the ordinance, it better be detailed and be something that can and will be enforced.

“If we’re going to sit around and be passive about it, why do it at all?” he said. “If we’re going to do it, enforcement’s got to be part of it. Otherwise, we’re cutting down more trees to write ordinances on.”

The council will further discuss the ordinance at a meeting in March.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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