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The sign marking the 29 Center Road business is lit in a way that violates that area's zoning, according to the Hillsborough County Superior Court. (Melissa Proulx/Correspondent))

Court rules in Goffstown's favor about nursing home sign

GOFFSTOWN — The Hillsborough County Superior Court sided with the town in a recent case regarding a sign at Bel-Air Nursing Home and Rehab Center.

The court ruled the sign is lit in a way that violates the zoning ordinance for that area; it must be externally lit since it’s in a residential zone.

Bel-Air had argued that since the light bulbs stick out from a panel behind the green overlay of the sign, it was external lighting.

“They’ll have to do something to make it comply,” said Nancy Larson, the town’s zoning code enforcement officer.

This most recent decision came from a suit filed last year, though Bel-Air has been appealing the Zoning Board’s denial for the last four years.

In December 2013, Bel-Air asked to replace its two externally lit signs with a smaller, internally lit one. That request was denied.

The Zoning Board’s decision was appealed based on the argument that one of the Zoning Board members at the time, Cathy Champagne, should have recused herself since she owns a sign company that also sought to provide a new sign for Bel-Air.

But the Superior Court upheld that decision in a January 2014 ruling.

In July 2015, Bel-Air applied for another permit for a sign it said was externally lit, but was once again denied the permit by the Zoning Board. An appeal was once again submitted to the town for the decision and denied in October 2015.

During the same meeting at which Bel-Air’s appeal was denied, an internally illuminated sign for St. Anselm College, which is also in a residential area, was approved by the Zoning Board. That sign was proposed by Champagne’s company.

Bel-Air argued in court documents that it was treated differently from other applicants in town and unfairly denied the variance that St. Anselm College was granted.

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