The owner of a hair salon in Rush City is facing possible penalties over a mural painted on the side of their building.
Erin Oare, owner of Hairdo or Dye, said she received a letter from the city on October 26, saying that the mural was in violation of Section 1001.03, subd. 6 of the city's zoning ordinance.
That section of the city's zoning ordinance reads:
"Whenever in a zoning district, a use is neither specifically permitted nor denied, the use shall be considered prohibited. In such case, the City Council or the Planning Commission, on their own initiative or upon request, may conduct a study to determine if the use is acceptable, and, if so, what zoning district would be most appropriate and the determination as to conditions and standards relating to development of the use. The City Council, Planning Commission, or property owner shall, if appropriate, initiate an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to provide for the particular use under consideration or shall find that the use is not compatible for development within the City."
Oare said that during the painting process no one had any problems with the mural.
"Everyone I talked to loved it. People would stop by and take pictures as she (Peg Skalicky) was painting it... just really really positive things."
The mural was painted by Peg Skalicky, and Oare says it's meant to depict solidarity.
In response to the letter, Oare claims they are being targeted by the catch-all subsection of the code.
"The ordinance is incredibly over-broad and kind of unconstitutional," Oare told WCMP. "It feels like they pick and choose who gets a violation under this blanket ordinance."
The city says that Oare has 10 days to remove the mural or face a misdemeanor charge that would result in up to a $1000 fine and/or not more than 90 days in jail.
Oare says they do plan on fighting it.
Following backlash from community members, Rush City Mayor Dan Dahlberg offered the following statement:
"The City recently notified the property owners of Hairdo or Dye that the mural that was recently painted on their west wall was a violation of our City Code. Per our interpretation of the Code, anything that is not explicitly permitted is considered prohibited. Clearly, this piece of art has sparked an important conversation in our community and provides an opportunity for us to address the deficiency in the Code. As the Mayor of Rush City, I’m going to ask our City Council to have an open conversation about how we can clarify and address shortcomings with the Code.
At a personal level, I believe the mural is a well-done piece of artwork and deserves more positive attention."
The next Rush City Council meeting is scheduled for November 14 at 6:30 p.m.
A picture of the mural was taken from the Hairdo or Dye Facebook page.