Update 3:34 p.m.:
The Planning & Zoning Commission's adopted zoning regulation change and the special permits granted to the Darien Junior Football League and Darien Public Schools have been released as public documents. All three documents are now attached to this article.
Thirty-foot-high temporary field lights for Darien High School and Holahan Field behind Town Hall will be allowed for the fall season, the Planning & Zoning Commission has ruled.
Early next year it expects to decide whether or not to allow permits for four or five years more.
But it will only consider the longer-term permits after Darien Public Schools and the Darien Junior Football League present it with a description of just where they want to position the lights, at what angle and other possible adjustments to make the lights as unobtrusive as possible to nearby neighbors.
In unanimous votes Tuesday, the P&Z approved a zoning regulation change to allow 30-foot lights on town-owned property, then approved special permits for both the football league and the public school system.
Both groups want to use the lights in the early evening, until 7 p.m., for practice sessions on certain dates in October and November. Some residents near the high school have complained that the current 20-foot-high lights are intrusive and have opposed raising them to 30 feet.
The Darien Junior Football League and Darien Public Schools officials have said the lights have been painstakingly adjusted to avoid shining much on neighboring land. Both groups have also said better lighting would enhance safety of students playing on the fields at night.
At the last P&Z Commission meeting, members said they were inclined to approve the special permits with the stipulation that the lights be adjusted within the first few weeks of the permits in order to minimize light shedding onto nearby homes.
But board member Susan Cameron said Tuesday that during the early part of the season it doesn't seem to be dark enough for a proper evaluation and adjustment of lights. Other board members agreed.
So the new testing period will come at some point during the regular fall football season. After the season is over, by January 2013, the applicants are supposed to present the Planning & Zoning Commision with a plan reflecting the best practices with the lights.
That plan would show where the lights were positioned, how they were pointed and angled down and perhaps any shielding or baffles that might be put around them to decrease the chances that the lights will shine into nearby homes.
Editor's note: See also these recent articles on the proposal to raise the maximum height of lights to 30 feet from 20 feet: