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Goffstown ZBA OKs St. A's field lighting

GOFFSTOWN — The Zoning Board of Adjustment agreed with planning officials that St. Anselm College’s Grappone field lighting is in compliance with its site plan.

In August 2012, Planning and Zoning Administrator Brian Rose made an administrative decision that the lighting on the field was compliant with the Planning Board approval given in June 2011. The decision was upheld by the ZBA in January 2013.

James and Lois Alger, who live directly to the east of college, appealed the ZBA decision to Hillsborough County Superior Court. The court remanded the case back to the ZBA for the sole issue of reviewing what information had been provided to the Planning Board.

The ZBA decision hinged on the review of the video of the 2011 presentation to the Planning Board.

Attorney John Cronin, speaking for the Algers, said glare from the 80-foot towers has a dramatic and ongoing impact on his clients’ property. He asked the ZBA to revisit the conditions of approval and send the project approval back to the Planning Board.

Cronin said the buffer depicted on plans originally submitted to the Planning Board did not exist in that condition at the time because a major storm wiped out many of the trees.

“I think there can be no dispute after looking at the video that there was a representation made that there was a thick, forested buffer to the east,” Cronin said. “That was false.”

St. Anselm attorney Robert Murphy said the only question was whether there was a commitment by the college to maintain any particular vegetative buffer. If such a condition existed, Murphy said it would have been detailed on the site plans.

Most of the storm damage occurred on the Alger property, Murphy said, adding that the school did not remove any trees and a large wooded area still exists on the east side.

“The important point is there’s no criteria as to what a buffer would be if there was a required buffer to the east of the stadium,” Murphy said.

ZBA members said they saw little discussion about vegetation on the video and that the area in question was often referred to as a woodland or a vegetative area rather than a buffer. Chairman Jo Ann Duffy said the Planning Board knows that a buffer has to be indicated as a buffer on the site plan.

“Going by the video it doesn’t appear to me that anyone wanted it as a buffer,” Duffy said.

Member Catherine Wooten said that the Planning Board’s original motion mentioned a “significant buffer” to the east.

The ZBA decided in a 4-1 vote that the site plan did not require St. Anselm to install or maintain a vegetative buffer. Wooten voted in opposition.

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