Vail shelves plan to regulate ‘decorative’ lights |

Vail shelves plan to regulate ‘decorative’ lights

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According to a draft ordinance, a “decorative outdoor light” is “A type of outdoor light that is decorative in nature commonly illuminated during the winter season. An example is Christmas tree lights.”

VAIL — Keep your tiki torches and lit-up lawn flamingos. The Vail Town Council on Tuesday decided not to regulate decorative outdoor lights.

The topic came up at a July work session about possibly regulating holiday outdoor lights. Those lights are common in the winter, of course. But town officials received complaints that people were leaving lights on through the spring, summer and fall.

The town already has lighting regulations, first passed in 1980, but decorative outdoor lights — many call them Christmas lights — had so far escaped regulation.

But with a few complaints in hand — primarily about one resident — council members in July asked Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther to bring back a proposed ordinance. When he did, at Tuesday’s meeting, council members quickly soured on the idea.

“Does that mean Sun Vail (condos) lights have to off by 11 p.m.?” Council member Dale Bugby asked.

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“Yes,” Ruther said.

Summer lights would also be regulated.

“I feel like I’m living in Whoville,” former council member Kim Newbury told the group. “We’ve had complaints against one homeowner and we’re going to regulate the whole town? I have some solar-powered driveway lights, and they wouldn’t be allowed under this ordinance.”

Council member Jenn Bruno noted that some of her neighbors have a small string of lights strung from their home’s patio. That wouldn’t be allowed under the proposed ordinance.

“We’re taking away some of the joy of summer,” Bruno said. “We have to rely on people to be tasteful and good neighbors.”

But council member Margaret Rogers asked about neighbors who refuse to be neighborly.

“The problem is people with dripping lights flashing into their neighbors’ bedroom windows at night in the summer,” Rogers said.

Bugby replied that residents simply need to find ways to come to terms with their neighbors in those cases.

“I feel like we’re trying to kill an ant with a sledgehammer with this,” council member Ludwig Kurz said.

With that, a motion to deny the ordinance passed, 6-1, with Rogers opposed.

Light ‘em if you got ‘em, Vailites.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, or @scottnmiller.

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