The city of Sanford will undertake two trial lighting projects in the coming months, one to improve lighting in the Georgetown neighborhood, and one to measure cost savings of new LED bulbs.

Georgetown resident Toby Wells approached the city several months ago to ask for improved lighting in his neighborhood to improve safety and help with crime prevention.

Working with Florida Power and Light (FPL), which owns the poles in nearly all parts of the city, Sanford’s Director of Public Works, Bilal Iftikhar, had originally planned to ask the utility to increase the wattage of the street lights to 400 watts from 100 watts. However, increasing the wattage of the lights would only make the areas already lit brighter, not fill in the gaps between lights. In many spots in Georgetown, the distance between lights is 300 feet.

The new plan, which will be tested on Cypress Avenue between 6th and 7th streets, calls for installing 200-watt sodium vapor bulbs and adding additional poles to increase the number of lights. The cost for adding the new lights and poles will be about $1,000.

District 1 Commissioner Mark McCarty has been a proponent of replacing existing lighting with LED bulbs, as well as using the LEDs for all new lighting projects. However, Iftikhar says FPL says has been unwilling to work with the city to install the more expensive LED lights. In fact, Iftikhar said repeated communication with FPL has yielded only a vague oral quote of $1,200 for each new pole installation with an LED light.

The city will move forward with an LED lighting project without FPL on 16 city-owned light poles on 1st Street between Oak and Laurel avenues. Because those lights also have their own meter, Iftikhar said the city would be able to monitor the power costs associated with the LEDs.

There should be significant savings because LEDs use significantly less power. The city of Los Angeles recently installed 141,00 LED streetlights and cut energy use by 63 percent, saving some $7 million.

But Iftikhar cautioned that LEDs are are costly. The lights cost $550 each. Replacements for those LED damaged by lightening or other weather conditions would also $550.

“So we could be spending more on bulbs than we do on power,” noted District 4 Commissioner Patty Mahany.

In other business, the city commission:

Heard a proposal from Community Electronic Information Signage to install welcome signs at no cost to the city. However the signs, which cost about $80,000, would include a digital screen on which seven advertisements would rotate every 8 seconds. One of the advertising slots would be reserved for the city.

City Attorney William Colbert advised commissioners that such a deal — while possibly advantageous to the city — would represent a fundamental change in policy because, for the first time, the city would allow advertising in the public right-of-way. Such a change could lead to other businesses requesting to advertise in rights-of-way throughout the city.

Commissioner directed Colbert to explore the legalities of changing the policy and whether such signage could be restricted to city-owned welcome signs.

Approved on second reading two ordinances that rezoned and changed the future land use of 214.54 acres at 2401 E. Lake Mary Boulevard. The changes will allow residential development on the property — 174 homes on 75-foot wide lots and 203 homes on 50-foot lots.

Approved on first reading an ordinance changing the city code to alter the length of time a contract for solid waste collection services may be in effect. Currently, city codes restrict the agreements to a maximum of 7 years. The change would allow the agreements to be in place “for such number of years as deemed appropriate by the City Commission.”

— By Dan Ping

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