Special to The Express
Plympton is unique compared to the majority of South Shore towns. It’s the smallest in population, but among the biggest in natural resources and beautiful rural landscapes. It’s certainly the only town down here that had a woman fight in the Revolutionary war – dressed as a man. It’s home to a lot of cranberry bogs and a lot of horses. It has been referred to as “the lungs of the South Shore” by soil scientists, due to its extensive cedar and red-maple swamps, which grow on peat. Peat soils are a first-class carbon sink and a key to the battle against climate change.
And in Plympton, you can actually see the stars.
Satellite images of southeastern Massachusetts at night reveal Plympton as a dark spot surrounded by a sea of twinkling suburban lights. Part of that phenomenon is explained by our relatively light population density and acres of woodlands, wetlands, fields and bogs, but part of the explanation is the fact that there is something else that makes Plympton unique – we have a Dark Sky By-law.
Many residents in town may not know it, but Plympton has long had a zoning by-law aimed at protecting those wonderful star-filled vistas that we still get to enjoy. Residents will find this by-law under Chapter 300, Zoning, Article VI, Section 6.9 – entitled “Lighting Systems and Fixtures”. (All Plympton zoning regulations are easily accessible by visiting the Town of Plympton website.)
The key features of the outdoor lighting by-law include: lights must be shielded so that the fixtures shine downward and allow no “up light”; potential light pollution should be taken into consideration by businesses and residents when designing outdoor lighting systems; and, as the by-law itself says, lighting systems designed to minimize light pollution will “decrease lighting costs and preserve the night sky as a natural and historical resource.”
The outdoor lighting regulations detailed in Section 6.9 are enforced by Plympton’s Zoning Enforcement Officer. If you own a home or business in Plympton, your questions or comments regarding outdoor lighting and the Dark Sky by-law can be referred to our Zoning Enforcement Officer. Contact information for the ZEO’s office can also be found on the town website.