BBQ owner, city divided over pig mural

Friday, December 31, 2004

SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- A mural of pink pigs painted on the side of a restaurant is apparently too spicy for officials in this city's historic district.

The city has denied a permit to Janelle and Steve Carpenter, owners of the BBQ Shack.

The mural features five pink pigs on a white concrete wall, unwilling participants in meal preparation. One is ready to be grilled as another attempts escape in a hot air balloon. The remaining three appear to be enticing drivers to stop.

The Carpenters have appealed the decision.

The couple had planned to open their restaurant in October. At the time, Janelle Carpenter said, the city council told her she wouldn't need a permit to paint the exterior of the 600-square-foot building.

So began the $3,500 painting of unclothed pigs.

But as the painting neared completion, Carpenter said she was told that while painting a building is kosher, pigs and other objects are considered murals and require a permit.

She said the city's design review board, which makes recommendations about exterior changes to buildings in the district, objected to the painting because it doesn't fit the district's landscape and because naked pigs might lead to paintings of naked people.

Dwight Hartman, the city's planning manager, denied the permit based on board recommendations. He declined to comment.

Karen Guzak, board chairwoman, also refused to explain the board's objections, citing the Carpenters' appeal.

"How offensive can a pig be?" said Tom Grissett of Snohomish, a customer eating barbecue pork at the diner on Wednesday. "When was the last time you saw pigs with clothes on?"

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