Mark this one as another to watch for the 2013 season of the War on Christmas: According to The Cranbury Press of New Jersey resident Keith Shaw was cited for four violations of local ordinances given for what has become known as The Christmas Spectacular in Cranbury, New Jersey.
The Christmas Spectacular is an annual lighting event in which Mr. Shaw conducts nightly light shows throughout the month of December on his front lawn at 128 N. Main Street. The shows are held at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. and are choreographed to music broadcast from a sound system located on Mr. Shawâ€™s property, according to his website, cranburychristmaslights.com. The display can also be viewed from the car, with the radio tuned to frequency 89.9 to hear the music.
The month-long display is put on as a fundraiser for local charitable causes, according to the website, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to causes such as the He Cares, We Care food bank at Princeton Alliance Church in Plainsboro. In 2012, the light shows raised $6,870.56 for the food bank, according to the website.
Of course, neighbors have complained about the show, which has a history dating back six years. They don’t like the traffic, the potential crime and vandalism plus the disruption to their neighboring properties.
Shawâ€™s potential violations include the violation of the use restriction of a residential zone, and three sign ordinance violations that had to do with size, number of signs, and advertising a permitted use. Shaw’s home is located within the Village Hamlet Residential Zone in Cranbury Township and commercial activities are not permitted in residential zones. The Christmas light display solicits donations for charities, which is a commercial activity, according to the officer who issued the citations.
When asked what his next step will be, Mr. Shaw said that he is unsure. He will be consulting with his attorneys at Liberty Counsel to decide where to go from here.
With the boardâ€™s interpretation in hand, Mr. Shaw said that regardless of any changes he might have to make, the show will go on as scheduled. â€Weâ€™re definitely going to be doing a Christmas display this year,â€ he said.
The announced inclusion of attorneys from Liberty Counsel is sure to elevate this fight in the media.