Regulatory Authority: Devens Enterprise Commission
Agency Contact: Peter C. Lowitt
Phone: 978.772.8831 ext 3313
Address: 33 Andrews Parkway, Devens, MA 01434
Massachusetts Register Number 1211
Effective Date: June 2012


4.04 Illumination and Astrophysical Compatibility

  1. Overview. The intent of 974CMR 4.04 is to preclude or significantly mitigate conditions that could cause nuisance impacts to area residents and businesses or other users within Devens.

    It is recognized that the collective impact of illumination associated with all future uses and improvements in Devens potentially could have an impact upon the surrounding communities in general, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory on Oak Hill in the Town of Harvard. In order to preclude any negative impacts, it is necessary to regulate the overall illumination level emanating from Devens in the night sky. Said levels can be reasonably controlled by means of standards and criteria controlling light sources; illumination levels and types; reflective surfaces; signs; and the external lighting of building, landscaping, travel ways, and parking lots. At the same time, it is necessary to assure that public safety concerns will be fully satisfied for night time activity within Devens.

    While it is the intent of 974CMR 4.04 to provide a local complaint mechanism in regard to illumination and astrophysical compatibility issues, it is recognized that most interference problems can be precluded by addressing such concerns at the time of application for site plan approval with respect to facilities in proximity to the perimeter boundary of Devens or at the time of application for a building permit with respect to facilities that have the potential of exceeding the performance standards within Devens. Applicant/owners and engineers and architects should be made familiar with the standards to follow, as a supplement and enhancement to the complaint process, in order to incorporate them into the earliest stages of their project design process.

    Should a complaint emanate, however, after a facility is established at Devens, then the procedures in 974CMR 4.04(2) shall apply.

  2. Complaint and Enforcement Process.

      (a) Upon receipt of an interference complaint form a receptor, the Building Inspector, or other duly authorized Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) official shall respond to said complaint and attempt, by means of circumstantial and field investigative evidence, to attribute the illumination interference to a point source. Where such attempts fail to reliably identify a point source and where the pattern of interference is judged by the Inspector to be of a repeated and pronounced nature, then the inspection official may, at his or her discretion and with the concurrence of the Land Use Administrator, acquire necessary technical expertise to increase the likelihood of reliably attributing the illumination interference to a particular user. Should the user be identified beyond reasonable doubt as the source of interference, then the user may be required to reimburse the DEC for the cost of using the services of this technical consulting expertise.

      Once there is reasonable certainty of the nuisance source, the violator shall be subject to provide reasonable mitigation measures that essentially resolve the difficulty. Refer to 974CMR 4.04(2)(b) for a description of procedures relative to enforcement.

      (b) Potential violators will be given thirty (30) days in which to respond to a complaint or otherwise provide reasonable confirmation to the Building Inspector or other duly authorized DEC official, that the problem did not exist or has been eliminated. If probable cause is determined, a second thirty (30) day time period will be granted in which to correct the nuisance or to demonstrate that good faith efforts have been initiated. If such efforts are not initiated, the violator may be subject to remedies in the Devens By-Laws, including levying of fines, requirements to post performance guarantees, permit reconsideration by the DEC or legal action. Emergency nuisance conditions may, at the discretion of the DEC inspection official, require more expeditious remediation.

  3. Illumination Standards Internal Impacts

      (a) Types of Fixtures

      (b) Fixed Focus Luminaries - Pole-mounted (typically used for parking areas, streets and roadways, and pedestrian areas); or Wall-mounted ("wall packs") shall meet the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) criteria for "sharp cutoff" luminaries; candlepower per 1000 lamp lumens shall not exceed 25 candelas at an angle of 90 degrees above nadir, and 100 candelas at an angle of 80 degrees above nadir. Mounting height of these units may not exceed 30' above the ground plane.

      (c) Variable Focus Luminaries (typically used for athletic fields and large trailer-storage, inter-modal operations yards; for example, large open areas that must be lighted solely from the perimeter due to function): Fixtures must, by a combination of aiming and shielding, permit no more than 100 candelas per 1,000 lamp lumens to be emitted above a line that is struck through the lamp center and extends at an angle of 80 degrees relative to nadir after the luminaries are in their finally-focused position. Mounting height of these units may not exceed 50' above the ground plane.

      (d) Sources. High-pressure sodium lamps are not permitted.

      (e) Light Levels. Refer to the Illuminating Engineering Society Lighting Handbook/Reference & Application (8th edition, 1993), Chapter 24 for appropriate lighting levels for parking lots and street/roadways. No street or roadway is to be classified higher than "Collector -- Residential"; see Figure 24-8 (Collector - Residential is considered highest from the viewpoint of pedestrian night time safety requirements). All parking areas are to be considered "Low" activity areas (See Figure 24-23). Although these Recommended Average Maintained Illuminance Values are minimum recommendations from the I.E.S., they are to be considered target values for Devens, and may not be exceeded by more than 25%.

      (f) Pavement Finishes. All finish surfaces on paved areas (parking areas, storage yards, streets, and roadways) shall be black asphalt with dark aggregate, or other surfaces of no greater reflectance.

      (g) Landscape Lighting. No uplighting of landscaping shall be permitted. Further, any pole or tree-mounted landscape lighting fixtures shall meet the Illumination Engineering Society (IES) criteria for "sharp cutoff" luminaries; candlepower per 1000 lamp lumens shall not exceed 25 candelas at an angle of 90 degrees above nadir, and 100 candelas at an angle of 80 degrees above nadir.

      (h) Building Facade Floodlighting. No building floodlighting is permitted. The sole exception to this shall be structures which serve a clear public purpose within Devens and are significant visual focal points in terms of architecture and/or siting context; examples include government buildings, visitors centers, designated historic monuments and similar uses. Use of downlighting fixtures shall be strongly encouraged in such instances; however, when it is impractical to illuminate from the top of a structure, uplighting may be considered, subject to the following conditions: average illumination shall be restricted to 20 foot-lamberts and shall be further required to be turned off as early as possible when the facility is not in active use, or no later than 11:00 p.m.; whichever is the earlier.

      (i) Sign Lighting (All sign, billboard, advertising, and/or identity lighting) Illuminated signs may not occupy more than 3% of the building facade on which they are mounted.

      1. Front lighted: All front-lighted signs shall be lighted from the top, and aimed and/or shielded so that no more than 100 candelas per 1,000 lamp lumens are emitted above a line that is struck through the lamp center and extends at an angle of 80 degrees relative to nadir after the luminaries are in their finally-focused position.

      2. Internally- and rear-lighted signs: On signs with a surface area larger than 10 sq. ft., no surface luminances on or around the signs shall exceed 30 footlamberts, and no exposed lamps may be used. On signs that are composed primarily of letter-forms, only the letter-forms may be illuminated -- no luminous backgrounds are permitted.

        No illuminated portion of any nonbuilding-mounted illuminated sign may exceed a height of 20' above the ground plane.

      (j) Operational Controls. Unless a building maintains an evening or night operation, other than security personnel, all general parking lot lighting and identity signage lighting shall be turned off as early as possible when the facility is not in active use, or no later than 11:00 p.m., whichever is the earlier. Minimal site and limited-area parking lighting may be operated beyond these hours with illumination for security purposes, but should be confined to as small an area as possible. This area may include some spaces for overnight parking among personnel who are traveling for the firm.

      (k) Exceptions:

      1. Temporary holiday lighting

      2. Owner-operated lighting within a privately-owned residential lot line, provided that it complies with the requirements under 974CMR 4.04(3)(g).

        As a supplement and enhancement to the preceding complaint process, the illumination performance standards might require that the inspection official attempt to preclude or minimize potential interference to the maximum possible degree at the beginning of the process, or the building application stage. Accordingly, the following process is described. Prior to the issuance of a building or occupancy permit, the applicant proposing the construction or use of a potentially nuisance generating facility, as generally defined by the Illumination Standards, shall be required to demonstrate the unlikelihood of non-compliance with such Standards, or that proper mitigation measures will be taken as a condition of permit issuance.

  4. Illumination Standards External Impacts. The same Illumination Standards apply to all users within Devens. However, with respect to facilities and improvements located within 500 feet of the perimeter boundary of Devens which may give rise to particular concerns by External Receptors, the applicant for site plan approval for such facilities or improvements shall demonstrate compliance with 974 CMR 4.04(3).

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