At the February 28, 2023 Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, members directed Attorney Jon Jouben to find out what the County’s limits are on regulating illumination / light pollution. March 6th, Jouben returned with his findings that the County has two mechanisms that can be used.
The BOCC can enact an ordinance that regulates coastal lighting to protect sea turtles. Such an ordinance would need to comply with Florida State law (Fla. Stat. § 161.163; Rule 62B-55.004, F.A.C.) The other option is to use a Land Development Regulations (LDR) as long as it “forwards a goal, objective or strategy of the County’s comprehensive plan.”
Chairman John Allocco stated that he has been approached by constituents who reported “being harassed by their neighbors.” Currently, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and Code Enforcement are unable to provide remedies when a citizen complains of unwanted or unnecessary lighting.
“We require businesses to have lighting … that stays on their property. We should be able to have something similar at the residential level, especially when we have more people moving in to the community.”
Commissioner Steve Champion is in favor of regulation to prevent deliberate abuse, but wants to stop short of infringing on the rights of citizens simply trying to illuminate their backyards.
No specific incidents were discussed at this time, and there was no discussion on which approach the county will take. Commissioners are considering modeling a local ordinance based on other municipalities which already have such ordinances in effect, such as Volusia county and South Miami.
The proposed ordinance is expected to be discussed at a future meeting.