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City: Turn Off the Holiday Lights Already. It's the law.

5:30 PM, Mar 13, 2012   |    comments
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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Even though it's the middle of March, holiday lights can be found twinkling on buildings in downtown St. Augustine.

Some visitors,  like Jim Reichert, say while they love St. Augustine, they're not wild about the holiday lights that still shine.

Those lights have not been turned off since the Nights of Lights officially ended January 31st.  It's one of the city's premier events. Last year the Nights of Lights lured thousands of visitors to the city and brought in accolades from National Geographic.

"So it was very successful," said St. Augustine Planning and Building Department Director Mark Knight.

Since late February, his office has been sending out code violation letters to twinkle light lovers, reminding them of the local lights law.

"They were supposed to be shut off by Feb. 1st," Knight said.

A city ordinance allows holiday lights to shine from the third week of November through the end of January in the historic downtown district and in the three entry corridors.

Knight said there are often people who like to leave the lights on longer, especially up to Daylight Saving Time. 

Knight said there are about 60 violators of the lights ordinance.  Most of them are businesses in downtown St. Augustine.

"A lot of people say why can't we have them on all year long," Knight said.  "If you didn't have them off for two-thirds to three-fourths of the year, then it wouldn't be as special to have the holiday lights ceremony."

The ordinance allows businesses and residents to keep the lights up all year long if they are at least ten feet off the ground. However, they cannot be on.

If businesses continue to violate the ordinance, they will be fined $250 a day.

Some visitors say, "Leave the businesses alone. The lights are nice."

And Reichert?

"In my opinion, leave them off," Reichert said, "They should be reserved for the holidays to make the holidays special."

 

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