MERRIMACK — Town officials have asked representatives from Merrimack Premium Outlets to consider turning off unnecessary lighting at the shopping center when it is closed for business.
Tim Thompson, community development director, said Thursday that a handful of complaints have been received from neighbors upset about lights shining from the outlets at night.
Thompson stressed that illumination levels were measured earlier this month and were within the levels approved by the Merrimack Planning Board.
“While the illumination levels at grade are compliant, it is apparent that there are still some remaining issues relative to the lighting at the site and the visibility of the lighting fixtures to those in the neighborhood to the north of the project site,” Thompson wrote in a letter dated Monday to the outlets’ engineering firm, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.
He went on to say that the significant difference in grade between the outlets and the neighborhood allows for the lighting fixtures to be very visible in the neighborhood, and give a perception of excessive light escaping the site.
“I respectfully ask that (Merrimack Premium Outlets) consider turning off any unneeded lighting on the site after the facility closes, leaving on only that lighting which is necessary for employee safety after hours,” Thompson wrote. “I believe this would assist in alleviating some of the concerns expressed by several abutters and residents related to the lighting at MPO in the late night hours.”
While the town cannot mandate the outlets to do this, Thompson said he formally requested that it be considered.
Since issuing the letter, Thompson said he has spoken with a representative from the engineering firm, and has been informed that it is evaluating the matter to see if any measures can be taken to alleviate concerns.
“This is completely voluntary. They are under no obligation to make changes, but they are examining the issue,” Thompson said Thursday, adding he is hopeful the request will be accommodated.
When the next phase of construction at the outlets is presented to the planning board, Thompson said he will recommend that larger shields be installed. The lighting shields that were installed in the first phase are compliant with what was approved by the town, but according to Thompson, they do not provide enough effectiveness to residents with homes that are down grade from the outlet site.
The 100-store facility owned by Simon Property Group opened its doors last month. The $100 million shopping center sits on a 170-acre site along Industrial Drive that is mostly hidden from motorists and neighbors.
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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at email@example.com.