A fight has erupted in the town of Conway, New Hampshire, over a mural that local students painted above a bakery.
It’s because the mural shows muffins, donuts and the like.
The Institute for Justice said it sent a letter to town officials asking them to stop their effort to force the bakery to paint over the mural.
The letter suggests the town’s treatment of a mural at Leavitt’s Country Baker on White Mountain Highway as a “sign” is discriminatory and contrary to the First Amendment.
The IJ reported, “In June, students from Kennett High School painted a colorful mural above the front door of Leavitt’s Country Bakery on White Mountain Highway. The mural features a New England mountain landscape made entirely of baked goods, such as donuts, scones and muffins. Leavitt’s owner Sean Young said at the time, he thought the mural “would be a fun project for kids and good for the community.’”
But within weeks town officials determined that they would call it a “sign” so that they could limit the size and location.
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”Why? Simply because the mural’s mountainscape depicts baked goods like those sold at the bakery. Thus, officials believe the sign should be treated as an advertisement, “ the IJ said.
Young has appealed to the Conway Zoning Board and explained that tearing it down would create “undue hardship” for his business.
The IJ explained he noted that it seemed wrong that Conway would be perfectly fine with the mural if it did not include paintings of baked goods.
“If Leavitt’s wanted a mural the exact same size and location that didn’t depict baked goods, that would be perfectly okay according to town officials,” said IJ Senior Attorney Rob Frommer. “But banning certain murals simply due to what they depict violates the First Amendment by turning town officials into the speech police. That’s why we’re requesting that the town back off and let Leavitt’s keep its mural up.”
The IJ lawyers confirmed the sign code is very broad, calling anything used to “advertise, announce the purpose of, or identity the purpose of any person or entity, or to communicate information of any kind to the public,” was a sign.
The result is that the town calls the muffin mural a sign, but calls a posting at the Settlers Green shopping center, which states “Welcome to North Conway,” a mural.
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