Mayor: University Doesn't Need Variance to Raise Light Poles 45 Feet

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Millersville, Pa., mayor David Aichele cast the tie-breaking vote at a recent Millersville Borough Council meeting, allowing Millersville University to increase the height of stadium lights from 35 feet to 80 feet at Cooper Field Stadium without first obtaining a variance.

As reported by LancasterOnline, Thomas Waltz, assistant vice president for facilities at the university, said there was a proposal last November to upgrade the electrical system and increase the height of the light poles in the stadium by 45 feet. Waltz defended the value of the university baseball stadium, which is used by Penn Manor High School’s baseball program for practices and games when the high school’s field is too wet, as well as by youth baseball clinics and coaching clinics. Last year, Cooper Field hosted 183 baseball games, 157 of which were unrelated to Millersville University or the NCAA, Waltz said. State Sen. Scott Martin, a Millersville University graduate, was instrumental in supporting the project.

According to LancasterOnline's Elaine Walmer, the matter was initially presented as a non-action agenda item in which university officials were on hand to present updates on the baseball stadium and the Prince Street parking garage. Council member Maggie Weidinger stepped in with a series of questions about the benefit of the stadium to borough residents, eventually making a motion that would require the university to obtain a variance.

Weidinger said increased traffic and lighting resulting from the taller poles would be “terrible” for borough residents. “Don’t infringe on our borough residents any more than you already have,” Weidinger said, as reported by LancasterOnline.

The stadium is “not just a university asset,” Waltz said. “Cooper Park is a public recreation facility. It brings in a ton of folks."

Weidinger asked numerous times if the field could be reserved by borough residents to host events such as family reunions. Waltz responded that the field is open for the public, but the restrooms are locked unless they are reserved. He said the field can be reserved by the public and that he was compiling a list of requirements to do so.

The facility's LED lights help focus light on the field, thus reducing ambient and spill light.

Prior to the vote, council member Darlene Eager said that officials need to be cognizant about what they are opening the borough up to in the evenings. While the policy is to have lights out by 10 p.m., Waltz said that in April and May the coaches can’t guarantee lights out by 10 p.m., as reported by LancasterOnline. 

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