Much ado about lights

This weeks Town Council meeting we will discuss a proposed amendment to an ordinance regarding String Lights.  Yes, string lights – like the ones you put on a Christmas Tree, or businesses have put in some of their outdoor areas.


Last council meeting, staff brought forward an ordinance to change the “rules” regarding the use of these lights around town.  The ordinance change that was originally proposed, and unanimously recommended by the Planning and Zoning board:

  1. Removed the restriction of lights in only the Downtown Cary Town Center and allowed lights across town.
  2. Removed the “twinkle type lights”
  3. Allowed accenting of lights along rooflines and the perimeter of outdoor areas.


I liked the proposed ordinance the way it was written, but 5 of the 7 council members disagree with me.  (Thanks Don!)

NEW Ordinance

The NEW ordinance to be discussed/approved tomorrow makes these changes:

  1. Only allows these types of lights Downtown and in Mixed Use Overly Zoning Districts
  2. Only allows them in landscaping (not on rooflines) or other places,
  3. And only allows perimeter down-lighting that is shielded and only for sales areas
I like Lights

I’ve seen string lights tastefully used by our small businesses across the town to provide indirect, beautiful outdoor lighting at restaurants and other businesses with outdoor seating.

Folks enjoy dinner outside at Ashworth Village or Bosphorus– where the ambience is certainly set by the beautiful outdoor string lights.



I can’t imagine a summer evening at Goodberry’s without the tree lights.  (I’m checking to see if BOTH Goodberry’s are in Mixed Use Overlay districts.) 


I don’t feel it’s fair to limit the use of these lights to businesses and restaurants that are Downtown or in a Mixed Use Overlay District.  I’d like to be fair to all our businesses, and apply an ordinance equitably across the town.

But, let’s see how tomorrow goes. 🙂

As always, thanks for listening and please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.


Featured photo by Memicat

6 Responses to Much ado about lights
  1. doc thorne Reply

    I’m with you Lori, although as long as the use of them in Downtown is not curtailed I concede the Council’s decision.

  2. Lorraine Cenzoprano Reply

    Lori- I really think this ordinance is going too far. I too, love the white lights in the trees in the shopping center along Davis Dr.& HH Rd.. It adds a sort of ambiance to the area. Even driving by at night, its pretty to look at.

    Why just allow Downtown? This is NOT fair!!

    Lorraine Cenzoprano

  3. Teresa Spangler Reply

    It seems very extreme to consider removing lights that provide so much of the ambiance and delight that reflect this community. There are so many other things critical to our safety and standards but not lights that are the reflection of the beauty in our community. Twinkle or non twinkle, please please please do not ask our small business owners to remove them!

  4. Suzanne Reply

    Thanks for checking into this. I love white string lights, they add charm and ambiance… Sad to penalize businesses like Goodberrys that were built before Mix Use became popular….

  5. Sam Reply

    First bad art, now more bad decisions. You have my vote, Lori.
    Send me a donation form for your next run.

    Meanwhile, here is a propsal from the floor. Have “staff” do something about the town website. Too many broken links. An embarassment for a town full of tech folks.

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