US (CO): Silt-area lettuce farm asked to address lighting impacts on neighbors

The owner/operator of a large indoor lettuce-growing operation south of Silt has been asked to find ways to reduce the amount of light emanating from the facility. Some neighbors of the Spring Born greenhouse operation have complained to Garfield County officials about light glare coming through their windows in the early morning hours.

“I’ve been woken up at 3 a.m. every day by this since Aug. 11, 2021,” Kim Barta said during the county commissioners meeting on March 7. She lives to the west of the facility on County Road 331. An offer by owner Charles Barr to buy blackout curtains for her and other impacted neighbors was, “frankly, insulting,” Barta said. She added she believes the county should have done more research into the lighting impacts before approving the building permit for the facility.

Garfield County Community Development Director Sheryl Bower said a greenhouse is a use by right under the county zoning for that area, and the matter was not required to come before the Planning Commission or the Board of County Commissioners. There are, however, concerns with the lighting fixtures that are used not complying with the county code. “There are issues of glare, and we are working to bring them into compliance,” Bower said.

Barr admitted the greenhouse complex does “glow,” especially in the early morning hours when the lighting system automatically comes on until sunrise, then comes on again for a period of time at sunset. “This is the time of year when the lights are on the most,” he said before the commissioners at the same March 7 meeting. “That will reverse as the season progresses, and the lights come on later.” Barr said he did offer to purchase blackout curtains for affected neighbors, and is also working on some mitigation measures at the facility itself.

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