Marin IJ: Feb 19, 2016

Marin Catholic night lights application needs more work, county says

A photo illustration taken from plans filed by Marin Catholic High School shows how the athletic field would look when the proposed lights are turned on. Provided by County of Marin

Marin Catholic High School’s application to install night lighting for 514 sports events and practices a year at its outdoor football field is incomplete and requires more work, according to a county analysis.

Further, the project may conflict with several planning policies and probably will require an initial environmental study, senior planner Jocelyn Drake told high school regent Mike Bentivoglio in a five-page letter.

“It was entirely expected,” Bentivoglio said Friday. “We will be working with our team of experts to review these items,” he said. “We’ll finalize a submittal in the near future.”

School officials wanted night lighting at the stadium when plans for new bleachers and other facilities won county approval three years ago, but dropped the idea after county staffers advised lighting would undergo rigorous review. The lighting project surfaced again last year amid neighborhood alarm about glare, views, noise and traffic.

The lighting system would include four 80-foot tall light poles with differing fixture arrays installed on the 10-yard line at each side of the field to illuminate football, soccer, lacrosse and related games as well as practice sessions.

“The Community Development Agency Planning Division has examined your application and has determined that it is incomplete because additional information is required,” planner Drake told regent Bentivoglio. She asked for more information on two dozen issues, including the maximum number of athletes, coaches and staff anticipated for practices “broken down into time blocks per day and per season … when the Iights will be utilized.” ln addition, she instructed, “provide the maximum number of athletes and spectators expected per day, per season, for events when lights will be utilized.”

The county planner also asked for photo simulations of the project from various neighborhood locations, recommended preparation of a scale model site plan, asked for a project “cross section that includes the background” ridgeline, requested a biological site study, and called for more detailed work on studies involving illumination, acoustics and parking.

“The acoustic study shall be revised to include the PA system plus projected crowd and band noise projected at maximum attendance,” the planner said. In addition, “per the project application, temporary construction lights are currently being utilized during the evening hours for practices. These lights have not been previously approved and shall be incorporated into the project.”

Further, “the school shall include a plan to implement a partial stadium light shield to avoid the stadium light from affecting the adjacent roadways, nearby residents and businesses.”

On the merits of the proposal, the county planning staffer expressed concern about whether the project is in accord with policies including light pollution, size or scale, land use, noise and views, among other issues.

“It appears that the project will not qualify for a categorical exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act; therefore preparation of an lnitial Study will likely be required,” the planner advised.

Ross Valley Supervisor Katie Rice was not surprised by the planning staff’s letter.

“It’s thorough,” Rice said of Drake’s detailed request for more information. “It’s warranted given the proposal.”