October 31, 2014

CVS to turn down perimeter light levels

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By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

CVS Pharmacy plans to turn down its lights, after a slew of resident complaints about the bright perimeter lighting at the new Vermont 2A pharmacy.

Planning Director Ken Belliveau said that although CVS complied with the town’s lighting codes—the lights are “just barely under the maximum,” he said—many residents thought they were too bright.

“We got a lot of complaints right away,” he said, including one that compared the store to a spaceship.

Belliveau contacted CVS about the complaints, and said the company was willing to listen.

Currently, the store is lined with sets of two fluorescent bulbs. Mike DeAngelis, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island-based company, said CVS plans to reduce the perimeter lighting from two bulbs to one.

“We’re going to complete that work before the end of the spring,” he said.

“We want to be good neighbors,” DeAngelis said. “This was something that there was an expense to doing but we believe this is a reasonable compromise and something that is within our ability to implement.”

Belliveau said he also suggested adding a shield over the bulbs to direct the light downward.

Kevin Batson, a member of the Williston Planning Commission and Williston Green Initiatives, a recently restarted group of residents committed to environmental issues, said reducing the lighting might not be enough.

“It doesn’t fit with surroundings,” he said. “It’s way too bright… we just feel this is such a blatant waste of energy and offensive to the eye.”

Batson said members of Green Initiatives decided to wait and see how CVS addresses their concerns before taking further action.

Several years ago, a task force of approximately 20 people worked to compose an energy chapter for the comprehensive town plan, encouraging new businesses to present plans with low carbon footprints. The type of lighting at CVS was not anticipated, Batson said.

Belliveau said the town’s lighting bylaws specify the maximum allowed lumen output—a measure of visible light—but doesn’t prohibit continuous perimeter lighting. The town looks at “bright spots” in the lighting plan, and no particular spot is allowed to put out more than five lumens.

He noted that the Planning Commission might opt to revisit the town’s lighting chapter.

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