The Town of Stonington filed a lawsuit against Handlebar
Café owner Betsy Mitchell Cipriano for signage violations but she’s not the
kind of woman who goes away easily.
“I’ll take them down,” she said of the handlebars above her bar’s entrance, “but I have a plan.”
Cipriano was issued cease and desist orders for a mural on the side of her Route 1 bar in Pawcatuck and the pair of handlebars above the front entrance. Both were placed there by the reality TV show “Bar Rescue” as part of a makeover. Cipriano says crews left her with the impression that everything at Town Hall had been taken care of.
“We’ve had people from around the world come here to get their photo taken in front of the bar,” she said. “There are other instances where people have cutsie things, why aren’t they offensive?”
Cipriano likens the handlebars and the mural as a piece of art.
According to a report in The Day, the lawsuit says that on May 7 Zoning Enforcement Officer Candace Palmer received a complaint that the bar didn't have permits for the signs and on May 20 Cipriano met with the Town Planner to discuss applying for permits but never submitted an application. On July 2, Stonington issued a notice of violation and when Cipriano didn't rectify the violations by July 23 she was issued a cease and desist order, which could have been appealed within 15 days although Cipriano didn’t file one.
The bar will be fined $100 a day if the court finds that they willfully violated zoning regulations.
The town has bigger issues than “Besty’s handlebars,” said Cipriano.
Calls to Zoning Enforcement Officer Candy Palmer were not returned.