Door County Judge Todd Ehlers finally settled a long-simmering dispute between the Village of Egg Harbor and business owner Kim Jensen May 6, declaring that the roses painted on her building don’t represent signage in violation of the village’s sign ordinance.
The village argued that the large roses painted on the west-facing wall of Jensen’s restaurant, Mojo Rosa’s, represented signage, since the restaurant’s logo is a rose. Jensen contested that the roses were part of an artistic mural. After a year of contentious communication between the two sides, the village took Jensen to court, suing in small claims court to get the roses removed and to collect fines it had given her for violating the village sign ordinance.
Judge Ehlers dismissed the village’s case, finding that the village did not meet the burden of proof required. He also ruled that Jensen did not have to pay fines handed down by the village for being out of compliance with the code. The ruling did not strike down the village’s sign ordinance or question its legality and applied only to the specifics of the Mojo Rosa’s situation.
Jensen was understandably happy about the ruling.
“I just feel like I can walk down the street in Egg Harbor with my head held high again,” Jensen said. “I didn’t think anybody could beat the government in court but we did.”
Egg Harbor Administrator Josh Van Lieshout said he was surprised by the decision, but would respect it.
“The judge’s ruling gives us reference for what he would need to see in future cases,” Van Lieshout said. “It looks like there is a little higher threshold for communication and correspondence than has been the practice in the village in the past. Since we’re probably going to find ourselves going back before him in the future in other instances, we better pay attention.”