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His 'sign for Jesus' may shine after all

Last modified: 4/9/2011 12:00:00 AM
The saga of Fab Cusson's proposed 'sign for Jesus' in Chichester appears to have ended with resurrection.

Beginning this past summer, Cusson had sought to build an electronic sign at the intersection of Route 4 and Main Street that quotes daily Bible passages. He was first shot down by the zoning board, but he won an appeal by arguing a town-wide ban on electronic message signs had been invalidly adopted.

Then the planning board rejected his proposal, voting 4-3 against it in February because of safety concerns about the sign distracting drivers at a main intersection. In response, the Alliance Defense Fund, a religious-freedom group representing Cusson, filed a federal lawsuit in Concord arguing that Cusson's sign should be treated no differently than gas price signs at the same intersection.

Thursday night, the planning board changed its tune. In a 5-2 vote with little discussion, the board reversed its decision and allowed Cusson to erect the 6-by-4-foot sign.

Cusson finally got the building permit yesterday.

'The Lord told me to buy that land and put up a sign. And ever since then, it's been obstacle after obstacle,' he said. 'But it seems that every time an obstacle pops up, down it goes.'

Cusson, a former OxyContin addict who says he turned his life around by following Jesus, intends to control the sign remotely from his home in Barnstead. Over the internet, he would change the sign to a new Bible verse every day.

After appearing on national television in his push for the sign, Cusson said a man in Warren, Ark., is in the process of building a sign that Cusson would also control remotely. Another sign might be built in Missouri, Cusson said, and his vision is to oversee a network of 'signs for Jesus' nationwide.

Now, Cusson must raise the money to build the Chichester sign. He was wiped out by spending thousands of dollars during the town application process, he said, and needs to raise $40,000 to $45,000 to complete the project.

'I'm just waiting on the Lord now to lead,' he said. Cusson said he plans to have the sign up by August and donations can be made at signs4jesus.com.

Tom Jameson, who chaired the planning board until Thursday night, said he was unsure why board members switched their opinion. Jameson had previously voted in favor of Cusson's proposal and did so again on Thursday.

'All I can say is we had no hard evidence that the sign was going to be a significant safety hazard,' Jameson said.

Cusson said planning board members Stanley Brehm and Allen Mayville voted in favor of the proposal Thursday after previously voting against it. Brehm declined comment about his vote yesterday and Mayville could not be reached.

Planning board members Richard Moore and Thomas Houle still opposed the sign, Cusson said.

Kevin Mara, who took over the chairmanship of the board from Jameson on Thursday, also voted in favor of the sign both times. Jameson and Mara said they had no indication that the federal lawsuit changed board members' opinions.

'Mr. Jameson and I both thought bringing up the safety issue in the ninth hour without any facts to back it up may have been a bit weak,' Mara said.

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com.)


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