Possible veto override this Tuesday
by Dan Schroeder
If you live in Ogden and you ever look up at night, you've noticed the searchlight beam that's been "gracing" our evening skies every Friday and Saturday night since last summer. The light is located on top of the old Kiesel Building, just south of The Junction, and it's advertising The Vault, a dance club on the ground floor of the building.
I'm sure that people have different attitudes toward these kinds of searchlights. Some folks take them in stride as just another part of urban living. Others, including myself, are deeply offended that anyone would intentionally mar the beauty of the night sky for everyone within a five-mile radius.
Usually these searchlights are associated with some kind of special event, and they soon disappear. This one, though, seems to be a permanent fixture. These people have the audacity not only to disturb Ogden's night skies, but to do so every weekend, week after week, month after month, indefinitely.
You see, Ogden currently has no ordinance to regulate this kind of intrusion. And there always seem to be people who think that as long as something's not illegal, it's ok.
Fortunately, the City Council decided that enough is enough. It drafted an ordinance to limit the operation of a searchlight to no more than 12 nights per year, per location. Many other cities have similar ordinances, for obvious reasons. Other locations, such as Ogden Valley, prohibit searchlights entirely.
The City Council passed this new ordinance unanimously (6-0, with Van Hooser absent) at its April 6 meeting. I was delighted when I heard this news, but my delight was premature.
Now Mayor Godfrey has vetoed the ordinance. His rationale is that "History demonstrates that the use of spotlights self-regulates. They are used for a time by only a very few businesses and then they go away." The mayor does not state how The Vault's searchlight squares with his definition of "for a time".
This is the same mayor who says he wants to promote enjoyment of Ogden's beautiful outdoors, and who says he wants to attract businesses and residents who love that outdoors. Surely the mayor must realize that the night sky is an integral part of the outdoor environment that many of us cherish.
The City Council will vote this Tuesday, April 27, on a possible veto override (see agenda item #8), which requires 5 votes. The last time the mayor vetoed an ordinance that passed unanimously, the council sustained his veto. The meeting begins at 6:00 pm. You can also express your views to the council at firstname.lastname@example.org.