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Appeal of Mason's outdoor entertainment law coming

Union Leader Correspondent

July 27. 2016 11:40PM

Marty's Driving Range sign on Route 124 in Mason continues to thank voters who supported a zoning amendment that could bring outdoor concerts back to the business. (Meghan Pierce)

MASON — Residents opposed to music concerts at Marty’s Driving Range plan to appeal the Board of Selectmen’s denial Tuesday of a new special town meeting to reconsider a recently approved zoning amendment allowing the driving range to bring back outdoor entertainment.

Voters said yes, 240 to 165, at a June 7 special town meeting to amend the town’s zoning regulations to allow by special exception seasonal outdoor entertainment use up to three times a week from Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend, ending no later than 11 p.m. on holidays and weekends and 10 p.m. on weekdays.

The special town meeting brought out 39 percent of the town’s 1,028 registered voters.

On Tuesday night, more than 60 residents turned out for the rehearing of the already approved zoning amendment.

Representing residents opposed to the concerts, attorney Peter J. Nicosia said the zoning amendment was too vague, with no limits on sound or light. What’s more, he said, it does not define entertainment. “It could mean adult entertainment,” Nicosia said. Nicosia also argued that voters were not well informed about the implications and unintended consequences of their votes.

Selectmen said it was a well-attended town meeting, and that both sides circulated flyers throughout the town outlining their positions on the amendment. Selectmen also said zoning regulations protect residents from the negative scenarios Nicosia brought up.

A special exception has to move through a process and be granted by the Zoning Board, board members said. Limitations can and should be placed on any special exception granted by the Zoning Board, they said, and then unanimously denied the request for a new special town meeting.

Nicosia asked the board to refrain from granting a special exception for outdoor entertainment until an appeal of its decision is complete.

Board members said they would take no action on that request.

“I have a feeling this is far from over,” said Nicole Ruggiero, the owner of Marty’s Driving Range, after Tuesday’s meeting. She said if Marty’s can obtain a special exception and lawfully have outdoor concerts, they plan to.

“We’re going to go through the process as it should be,” she said.

Ruggiero and her father, Martin Ruggiero, who started the business in 1992 with his wife, asked for the special town meeting to keep the summer business afloat.

When Ruggiero took over the business after the death of her mother, she said she was able to boost business with outdoor concerts a few times a week.

There were no provisions in town ordinances regarding outdoor entertainment, so she consulted with police about appropriate times. When some residents expressed concerns about the noise and parking, town officials told her to stop and apply for a variance, which was denied.

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