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Is a Mural a Sign? Judge Says No

A year-long battle between a small town and a coffee shop owner grinds to a close.




Is a hotdog a sandwich? Is cereal a soup? Is a mural a sign?

These burning questions have sparked spirited debate for untold decades, but it seems we now have a legal answer for the last of them.

A New Jersey judge has said, no, a mural is not a sign, a ruling that concludes a year-long court battle between a small township and a coffee shop owner, reports.

The dispute started when Dave Fletcher, proprietor of the Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint in Cedar Grove, NJ, received a citation from local officials for having an illegal sign as constituted under an old town ordinance. The sign in question was a mural that Fletcher had hired two local artists to put on the back of the building.

Fletcher was initially ruled against, the article explains, but he won on appeal. The case was remanded to municipal court, where a less fastidious judge ruled that the mural did not meet the old ordinance’s definition of a sign.

Fletcher told the outlet it was an “enormous relief” to have the conflict behind him.


The takeaway for signpainters? Make sure your small business clients know whether the job they hire you for is legally permissible, lest your work be trampled over by crusty bureaucracy.


Signs of the Times has been the world leader in sign information since 1906. Contact Signs of the Times' editors at [email protected].



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