Ordinances, Resolutions, and Designations
Ensuring Star-filled Skies for Future Generations
When we plan for the future, we can create a Hill Country where starry night skies can always be enjoyed. By working with communities across the Hill Country, the Hill Country Alliance Night Skies program supports towns and cities in adopting ordinances and resolutions that will protect our night sky visibility both now and in the future. Some of the most successful community efforts come in the form of Night Sky Designations – either through programs led by the International Dark Sky Association or our own Night Sky Friendly Neighborhood and Night Sky Friendly Business recognition programs.
When communities work on multiple fronts – combining lawmaking with community action and local business participation – our night skies can flourish!
Night Sky Ordinances
Ordinances are laws that towns and cities adopt and implement. Many Hill Country cities have adopted outdoor lighting ordinances to preserve the night sky, improve visibility on their streets, reduce energy waste, encourage tourism, and protect the quality of life of their communities. However, Texas counties do not generally have the authority to pass ordinances for effective lighting for clearer night skies. See our County Authority page for more information about county jurisdiction and limitations in the Hill Country.
Click here to access and download a Texas Model Lighting Ordinance.
Ordinances allow communities to establish a standard for night sky friendly practices. The Hill Country Alliance is happy to help any community interested in adopting or updating an outdoor lighting ordinance.
The list of ordinances linked to below is not exhaustive. They also represent a spectrum of resources that vary from weak to strong and from simple to complex. For specific advice on what kind of ordinance might be best for your community, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- City of Blanco Outdoor Lighting Ordinance
- City of Dripping Springs Outdoor Lighting Ordinance
- City of Fredericksburg Outdoor Lighting Ordinance
- Johnson City Outdoor Lighting Ordinance
- City of Kyle Outdoor Lighting Ordinance
- City of Llano Outdoor Lighting Ordinance – In addition to the traditional issues of shielding, brightness, and timing, this ordinance addresses Correlated Color Temperature, an important issue as communities move to LEDs
- City of Mason Outdoor Lighting Regulations
- City of San Angelo, TX Nuisance Ordinance addresses proper lighting
- City of West Lake Hills Outdoor Lighting Ordinance
- City of Wimberley Outdoor Lighting Ordinance
- City of Woodcreek Dark Skies Ordinance
- Village of Webberville Lighting Ordinance
In Texas, most counties are prohibited from adopting outdoor lighting ordinances. Exceptions include west Texas counties around the McDonald Observatory and counties within five miles of certain military installations. In our region, the exception applies to the five mile buffer zone around Camp Bullis, which falls in Bexar, Kendall, and Comal Counties. All three of these Hill Country Counties have ordinances in place within that five mile buffer.
Night Sky Resolutions and Proclamations
Resolutions and Proclamations allow municipalities and other groups to show support and inform the general public about night sky preservation efforts in a community or region. Adopting a resolution can also serve as an intermediate step for a city or county on its way towards adopting ordinances.
Resolutions allow city leaders to show they value the numerous benefits of night sky preservation – from reducing energy waste, to encouraging tourism, to maintaining or improving individual quality of life.
Several Hill Country cities have adopted resolutions in support of night sky preservation as an intermediate step on their way towards adopting ordinances.
- City of Bandera Night Sky Resolution
- City of Camp Wood Night Sky Resolution
- City of Fredericksburg Night Sky Resolution
- City of Fredericksburg “IDA Dark Sky Community” Resolution
- City of Junction Night Sky Resolution
- City of LaGrange Resolution Supporting Night Skies
- City of Lampasas Night Sky Resolution
- City of Leakey Night Sky Resolution
- City of Llano Night Sky Resolution
- City of Mason Night Sky Resolution
Nearly every Hill Country county has adopted some sort of resolutions in support of night sky preservation. Although these resolutions cannot require or prohibit any types of lighting, they are a positive show of support for the issue from our county officials.
Counties can follow up on these ordinances by including lighting guidelines (not requirements) in their subdivision applications and other communications with developers.
- Bandera County Night Sky Resolution
- Blanco County Night Sky Resolution
- Burnet County Night Sky Resolution
- Comal County Night Sky Resolution
- Edwards County Night Sky Resolution
- Gillespie County Night Sky Resolution
- Hays County Night Sky Resolution
- Kendall County Night Sky Resolution
- Kerr County Night Sky Resolution
- Kimble County Night Sky Resolution
- Llano County Night Sky Resolution
- Lampasas County Night Sky Resolution
- Mason County Night Sky Resolution
- Real County Night Sky Resolution
- Uvalde County Night Sky Resolution
Utilities, businesses, nonprofits, and other entities in the Hill Country have adopted resolutions in support of night sky preservation for a variety of reasons. For utilities especially, these resolutions are indicators of the importance of night sky preservation in utility operations moving forward and are generally well received by staff and constituents.
Night Sky Designations
Night sky designation programs allow residents and local leaders to get involved in night sky preservation, outside of the policy world of ordinances and resolutions. You can help your community or a nearby park become an IDA Dark Sky Place through the International Dark Sky Association Dark Sky Places Program. This program works to encourage neighborhoods, communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect night skies through responsible lighting policies and public education. Looking to get your neighborhood or Chamber of Commerce involved with proper outdoor lighting? Check out our Hill Country recognition programs listed below.
If you need support in applying for one of these designations or would like more information on Night Sky Friendly recognition programs, contact the Hill Country Alliance at email@example.com.
IDA Dark Sky Places
The International Dark Sky Association offers 6 different types of designations: International Dark-Sky Communities, Parks, Reserves, Sanctuaries, Urban Night Sky Places, and Dark Sky Friendly Developments of Distinction, as well as a Dark Sky Friendly Home Lighting program. Click here to explore a map of all IDA Dark Sky Places around the world. To learn more about Dark Sky places in Texas, click here.
For more information about these programs visit darksky.org
This program recognizes subdivisions and neighborhoods that adopt the County Subdivision and Night Sky Friendly Neighborhood outdoor lighting policy into their homeowners agreements or deed restrictions. For more information or for assistance working with subdivision developers in your county to preserve Hill Country night skies, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Night Sky Friendly Business Recognition Program
The Night Sky Friendly Business Recognition Program is a cooperative program between some Hill Country Chambers of Commerce and the Hill Country Alliance to recognize businesses and organizations that have night sky-friendly outdoor lighting and to encourage others to follow suit.
Recent Night Sky News
The city of Blanco in Blanco County has joined four other Texas cities — all in the Hill Country as well — as the latest to be granted the sought-after International Dark Sky Community designation. The International Dark-Sky Association announced this week that the...
Editorial by Soll Sussman, Hays County Friends of the Night Sky Protecting the night sky is not just about the stars, as magnificent as the sight of them might be. In Hays County, the fastest growing county in Texas and in the country for that matter, we’re working to...
DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas — Booming population growth and sprawling development, groundwater depletion, changing climate patterns, extreme droughts and floods, and a unique set of policy challenges threaten the natural resources that define the Hill County...
They called him the Angel of Darkness. But this astronomer just wanted to keep West Texas skies pure.
Bill Wren remembers exactly where he was when he was first called the Angel of Darkness. He doesn't remember the year, but it was at a Texas Star Party, an annual gathering of 500 or so amateur astronomers held at the Prude Ranch in Fort Davis, Texas. Wren, a longtime...