City of Upper Arlington, Ohio

Neighborhood Lights Master Plan

Revised October 1998
Note: This is an html version of the Neighborhood Lighting Utility Board Master Plan, and does not include any original language that has since been stricken from the record as part of the 1998 update process.

Table of Contents


A. Board Responsibilities
B. Board's Goal


A. Standard Neighborhood Light Design for Residential Streets
B. Alternative Designs Procedures


Residential neighborhood lights existed for many years in the older area of the City south of Lane Avenue. When this old Series System was turned off due to age and condition, Residents realized that the lights were a significant benefit to the community because they added neighborhood charm and ambiance, provided public convenience and safety benefits and enhanced property values.

The City of Upper Arlington created the Residential Street Light Utility Board to encourage and expedite the development of a City-wide system of neighborhood lights on residential streets. This Board is responsible for establishing and maintaining a Master Plan for the rehabilitation of existing street lights, the installation of new lights and the operation and maintenance of all lights on residential streets.

The following sections of this Neighborhood Lighting Utility Master Plan detail the history and a City-wide process for providing lights on residential streets in Upper Arlington. Basically, the Plan requires that Residents who want lights must successfully petition for a special assessment to cover installation costs and agree to pay an annual maintenance/replacement charge. In order to meet the Residents' wishes and minimize installation and operation costs, the standard design follows the lower voltage lines and fluorescent bulbs design.

The original lighting system was installed in 1916 and consisted of concrete columns with Ionic Capitals and round globes. These original poles and globes were an artistic feature during the original development of Upper Arlington by the King Thompson Company. Today, only one original post still exists at First Community Village.

These original lights were replaced in the late 1920's with cast-iron Arcadian style poles with an eight sided lantern type luminaire. The Residents paid for this new system primarily through a special assessment. This Series System, which eventually included over 600 poles, used 200 watt incandescent bulbs. Over the years few changes occurred except some Cobra-head type lights were installed in certain higher volume traffic areas and over one-third of the original poles and luminaires were replaced with less expensive alternatives when the originals were damaged beyond repair.

Although the City significantly grew in size, it wasn't until 1968 that it began to light arterial streets outside the Series System. The lighting of other major thoroughfares and collector streets continued on a limited basis until 1988. All of these lights used the Traditional luminaire on a wooden pole and were installed at City expense. Much of the City has never had residential street lights.

Although the deterioration of the old Series System was apparent for some time, a replacement plan was not prepared until 1988. However, reaction to the original plan was not favorable (e.g., Residents in the old Series System objected when they learned the new lights would be at least four times as bright as the old lights, and Residents in other parts of the City objected to the City spending approximately $3,000,000.00 to light only one part of the City). In the Spring of 1989, the City Manager commissioned a study of the old Series System by an electrical engineer who determined that the combination of high voltages and the deteriorated wiring made the system unsafe. As a result of this study, the Series System was de-energized on May 11, 1989.

A comprehensive City-wide Neighborhood Lighting Master Plan was prepared in May 1990 and after considerable input from Residents, City Council revised the plan in 1991 to provide:

  • (a) The City would install neighborhood lightings on all arterial streets and pay approximately 8% for cost of lighting all other (residential) streets with the remaining costs paid via a special assessment on property owners.
  • (b) Estimated average costs were $1,895 per property, or $280.00 a year for ten years; with the City assuming all costs to maintain and operate all neighborhood lighting.
  • (c) Design elements included Barrington type poles, Edgewater type luminaries, and mercury vapor lights. However, recognizing that the Residents did not want the notable increase in the intensity of light in the original plan, the proposed light levels were reduced to the same level as the old Series System.

Information on this Plan and a survey response card were mailed to Residents in the old Series System in the Fall of 1991. However, apparently the cost was too high and confusion remained about the brightness level because the Residents turned this Revised Plan down and thus it was not implemented.

Subsequently, City Council directed staff to explore other ways of providing residential street lights. Some Residents developed an alternative plan using low-voltage lines from houses and fluorescent bulbs that were about as bright as the old incandescent bulbs. In August, 1993, City Council approved a pilot project using this low voltage design on Kensington and Southway Drives. The Residents on these streets voluntarily paid the installation costs of approximately $750.00 per household to refurbish and refit 20 of the old lights with the low voltage design. They also agreed to pay the nominal operating costs.

This project worked and received a favorable response from the Residents not only because of the costs, but also because it was similar to the old Series System.

In 1994, City Council appointed a Resident Consultation Group to make an in-depth study of the options including an evaluation of the pilot project and to make recommendations on how that (or another system) could be offered to the Residents. After much testimony and public hearings, this Group prepared a comprehensive report which recommended the low voltage/fluorescent bulb plan be used and that a Resident Street Light Utility be formed to implement the process.

Pursuant to these recommendations, City Council established the Neighborhood Lighting Utility Board (originally named the Residential Street Light Utility Board) in the Fall of 1994.

Although charged to implement the recommendations of the prior Residential Consultation Group, the Board, City Staff and consulting engineers explored various construction alternatives before approving the use of fluorescent bulbs powered by 110 volt mini-circuits, the use of a citizen-initiated special assessment process to pay for the cost of installation and with all maintenance costs paid by the Residents with lights and electricity costs to power the lights paid by the City.

This Master Plan incorporates this history and the Board believes it meets the Residents' wishes and thus offers the best opportunity to have neighborhood lights on residential streets in the City, since:

  1. there is a difference between roadway lighting and neighborhood lighting, and state-of-the-art recommended brightness values for roadway lighting need not apply - and indeed are often inappropriate - for neighborhood lights on the City's typically narrow and less traveled streets;
  2. the Residents in the old Series System turned down brighter lights and more expensive lights and repeatedly expressed their desire for a less expensive system similar to the old Series System;
  3. severe budget restraints make it highly unlikely the City could contribute significantly to pay for lights on any residential streets in the foreseeable future, and;
  4. the Residents wanting lights must voluntarily request and pay for them via a special assessment.

A. Board Responsibilities:
The Board is responsible to oversee and coordinate the planning, installation, maintenance and operation of all lighting on residential streets in the City including any parts on private property; to maintain this Master Plan and to assure its policies are uniformly applied and that equal City support and assistance is offered for all such lights on a City-wide basis.

B. Board's Goal:
The Board's goal is to encourage and expedite the development of a City-wide system of lights on residential streets by offering a high quality, user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing system at the most reasonable cost possible. To this end, the Board has adopted the Resident Consultation Group's recommendations for Residential Street Lights usinge Arcadian (Barrington) style poles, lantern type luminaries, fluorescent bulbs and lower voltage underground wiring.

The goal of the Master Plan is to be user-friendly, both as to Residents and to the City, which includes the following elements:

  • A. A residential street lighting system ats the lowest, most reasonable cost to the Residents with the highest quality possible.
  • B. A plan that minimizes as much as possible the hassles to homeowners.
  • C. A plan that maximizes fairness to all Residents and to the City.
  • D. A plan that can be implemented as quickly as possible so lights can be installed on residential streets as expeditiously as possible.
  • E. A plan that gives control of the system and responsibility for the long-term maintenance to the City rather than to Residents.
  • F. A plan that encourages installation of residential neighborhood lights, maximizes uniformity and facilitates ease of maintenance for the City.
  • G. A plan that emphasizes voluntary actions rather than compulsion and which minimizes conflict, both Resident-to-Resident and Resident-to-City.
  • H. A plan that avoids complexities and that shares information with the citizens to the maximum extent possible.


  • A. All streets not classified as arterial in C.O. Chapter 311 of the City of Upper Arlington's Traffic Code are covered by this Master Plan. (C.O. § 311.02 - Schedule II - Street Designations).
  • B. Lights will only be installed on residential streets pursuant to a voluntary special assessment petition by the Residents.

A. Standard Neighborhood Light Design for Residential Streets:

  1. POLE: 12' high Arcadian (Barrington) style. Where possible, existing cast iron poles will be reconditioned; otherwise new cast iron or aluminum poles will be used.
  2. LUMINAIRE: Edgewater type, acrylic lenses with no optics. (Diffuser and/or refracting panels can be used in appropriate circumstances to minimize light trespass.)
  3. BULB: Fluorescent, 1600-2400 initial lumens, color range 2700-2900 degrees Kelvin.
  4. SPACING: 100'-150' apart; with sensitivity to not placing poles closer than 5' to a driveway or directly across from a driveway; placement of poles also sensitive to maximizing access to power sources; in old Series System placements should follow prior system as closely as feasible.
  5. POWER SOURCE: Lower voltage systems will be used wherever possible to minimize costs. The revised standard system includes using 110 volt mini-circuits starting from a nearby electric pole. However, other power sources may be used based on cost savings and/or engineering considerations.

B. Alternative Designs:
While placing a high priority on a uniform design to maximize aesthetic values and reduce installation, maintenance and operating costs, in appropriate circumstances the Board may consider and present alternative designs and construction methods for City Council approval.