Judge: Belchertown condo complex can’t order sign removal

Staff Writer
Monday, January 25, 2021

NORTHAMPTON — A Belchertown condominium complex cannot order the removal of signs at or near the units of residents, a Hampshire Superior Court judge has ruled.

Judge Richard Carey cited the free speech provision of the Massachusetts Constitution in making his ruling in a case in which Margery Jess, a resident of Summer Hill Estates development, was ordered to remove her Black Lives Matter sign by the trustees of the development or face daily fines.

The case was filed by the Northampton law firm Sasson Turnbull Ryan & Hoose, alongside the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Jess.

Carey ruled that the condominium owners or their tenants are allowed to post non-commercial, constitutionally protected signs at or near their condominiums, without prior permission from the association’s board of trustees.

Because the ruling was agreed to by all parties, it will not be appealed.

“I think it clarifies the free speech rights of condominium owners,” said Bill Newman, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Western Regional Law Office.