• 75°

As growth dazzles, stars go dim

Rowan County’s trajectory for business and residential development is a steep incline if you talk to just about any public official, but there’s a trade-off with growth.

Growing Rowan County’s economy was, by far, the most frequently mentioned topic during the campaign for county commissioner. It’s certainly mentioned as a goal at every level of public authority. Adding to the population base in Rowan County unquestionably means more physical structures in Salisbury and surrounding municipalities. New subdivisions outside of a municipality are also likely to spring up. The disappointing trade-off with growth is an increase in ambient light, also known as light pollution. It’s a glow that surrounds cities and seeps into the less-populated, surrounding areas.

Sure, economic growth boosts the quality of life both directly and indirectly. With more retail outlets, Rowan residents are able to travel shorter distances to fulfill shopping urges. Industrial and business expansion, likewise, means more jobs are closer to where Rowan residents live. Both kinds of growth mean increased tax revenue for county and municipal government, which can, in turn, add to available services.

The most visible effect of increased ambient lighting is a fall off in the number of stars that can be seen by the human eye. Currently, stargazers in Salisbury’s city limits still can see a few specks of light dotting the night sky. Conditions get better further from municipalities, but no location in Rowan County, and certainly no spot in North Carolina, is perfect.

Perhaps the mountains offer better conditions. Even then, ambient light from Chattanooga, Asheville, Knoxville and other urban areas drown out some of the night sky. Dare County is the only one in North Carolina with broad stretches of land that show little light pollution on maps. Western states, by far, have the best night sky views.

Realistically, there’s no way to ensure light polllution doesn’t drown out all of the stars smattering the night sky. The expansive metropolitan area surrounding Charlotte, in large part, will prevent Rowan County from ever having a full sky of stars. The Piedmont Triad — Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point — likewise has an effect on our night sky.

But Rowan County isn’t entirely out of luck.

In the southeast corner of Rowan — near the border of Davidson and Stanly counties —the viewing conditions are good enough to catch an eyeful of stars in every direction. A well-trained photographer or astronomer can even spot a bit of the Milky Way on a clear night.

The quality of night sky may be a secondary or tertiary concern as Rowan’s leaders look to boost the local population through economic development, but it’s one that should be considered. Animals and humans have used the sky for centuries to determine ordinal directions. A summer night on a back porch is hardly complete without looking up to catch a glimpse of the stars.

Natural beauty is a part of the quality of life, too. Rowan’s growth may be inevitable, but it’s certainly possible to add business and industry while leaving portions of the night sky undisturbed.

 Josh Bergeron is a reporter for the Salisbury Post.

 

Comments

Coronavirus

New COVID-19 positives in Rowan at lowest point since start of pandemic

Education

Rowan Wild’s animal camp makes a comeback at Dan Nicholas Park

Coronavirus

Health officials say financial incentives helped vaccination rates; lottery drawing today

Granite Quarry

Granite Quarry adopts budget that keeps tax rate flat

Business

Airport Advisory committee endorses plans for expansion at Mid-Carolina Regional

China Grove

China Grove will celebrate 40th Farmers Day with week full of festivities

Sports

Pistons win in NBA draft lottery; Hornets will get 11th pick

Crime

Officers in Locust arrest drivers who tried to flee; one was on motorcycle reported stolen from Rowan

News

Panel OKs NC Senate budget bill; Dems pan policy provisions

News

Letter: Journalist won’t join UNC faculty without tenure

Crime

Chase from Mooresville ends with crash at Rowan Mill Road; two charged

Kannapolis

Dearmons gift two public art sculptures to city of Kannapolis

Crime

Blotter: Woman’s camper stolen from side of I-85

Local

Local scouts sweep NC American Legion awards

Business

As demand lessens slightly, local homebuilders work through challenges to deliver dwellings

Local

Commissioners name Newberry Hall House county’s newest historic landmark

News

Senate budget uses NC revenue boon on more tax cuts, capital

College

Livingstone College alumna Quanera Hayes makes U.S. Olympic Team after first-place finish in 400-meter race

Crime

Blotter: June 21

Ask Us

Ask Us: What is status of ‘speed table’ on Charles Street in Spencer?

Local

East Rowan High graduate killed in motorcycle crash

Local

Political Notebook: Gov. Cooper vetoes Ford-backed bill allowing firearms at churches that are also schools

Crime

Blotter: June 20

News

Body of fourth tuber, age 7, found in North Carolina river