Board approves Nashua restaurant sign

NASHUA – The Country Tavern Inn has received city approval to build an 18-foot electronic changing message sign in front of its restaurant at 452 Amherst St.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment normally takes a dim view of such signs, with members saying they’re ugly and can be distractions for drivers.

But because the restaurant sits low on its property and can be hard to see, the board went along Tuesday with a request to erect the 18-foot ground sign, while city regulations allow only 15 feet. The panel also granted variances for an electronic sign that will display messages other than the time and temperature, and the sign will be allowed to have two lines of text, instead of one, as permitted by the local zoning ordinance.

No one appeared before the board to oppose the sign, and a majority of the panel agreed there were hardships on the property to justify the variances.

Jon Randall, owner of the restaurant, convinced the board that the topography of his land and his right to free speech merited the variances.

Randall said chain restaurants are all over Amherst Street, and he needs a more visible sign to stay in business. The sign he has now can only be changed manually, and employees aren’t thrilled about taking on that task, especially in the winter, he said.

The new sign can be changed electronically from inside, and won’t be flashing or scrolling or featuring animation, Randall said.

The restaurant will share space on it with the Goddard School, a preschool on Townsend West, just west of the restaurant.