Cave Creek Town Council: Dark Skies takes a hit

Tuesday night’s (Aug. 19) Cave Creek Town Council meeting showcased a classic example of what happens when good intentions go head to head with governmental oversight. Oil and water?

So it was with the Dark Skies resolution.

But first, other business was conducted:

A short presentation was given regarding the status of Desert Foothills Library, emphasizing growth, re-imagining and a first ever million dollar budget.

A very detailed, comprehensive presentation was given on fire prevention, response scenarios and especially the co-operative efforts of surrounding units, man-power, vehicles, etc. Unfortunately, it appears that the chamomile threat is here to stay and considerable commentary was made on continuing the efforts to educate people on all the risk assessments. Code Red continues to be a positive asset.

4 acres were amended from DR-43 zone to GC zone to accommodate the building of a “micro” hospital.

$112,866.01 was approved to install temporary piping and electrical work at the Basin Road Water Treatment Plant.

$34,427.72 was approved for emergency repair to the Desert Hills Joy Ranch Road Production Well.

Now, back to Dark Skies.

The meeting drew a packed house and it would be fair to say that most were staunch supporters of the “resolution to establish the Town of Cave Creek as a certified international dark skies association (IDA) community.” The passion was obvious and many got up to speak, ranging from concerned residents, amateur and professional astronomers, a pilot/photographer – to name a few. Things began to unravel when some commentary turned “combative” over remarks. Then, the final speaker drew the wrath of the crowd by not just dissenting, but by just reading verbatim text, exceeding his allotted time and not giving up the podium.

At this stage, one could assume that Robert’s Rules of Order had vacated the building and the mayor was losing control of the increasing verbal exchanges.

Tension did not ease when it came time to vote.

At this point, it became clear that everyone, including those who dissented, really do love Dark Skies – as an expression, a concept, maybe an adjective. But not when outside oversight, enforcement and conflicting language looms on the horizon. There lies the rub.

However, the most interesting point was made at the end, as council members were voting and simultaneously expressing their angst. The Town Attorney made it clear that passing this resolution meant nothing other than intent – which echoed cries of “non-binding” and just “a step in the right direction” from the proponents in the audience.

In other words, it had no teeth.

Perhaps, the Town Attorney should have been the first speaker.

The motion was defeated, 4-3, as follows:

Yes – Morris, Royer, Diefenderfer

No – Bunch, Smith, Clancy, McGuire

Apparently, if you have lumen, you can’t make lumenade.