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Zoning Czars Threaten Bakery in the “Live Free or Die” State

Bakery Owner Fights Town Authorities to Keep Mural Above His Shop

North Conway, New Hampshire, an idyllic town of 2,069 souls, is wedged smack dab along the White Mountains in the “Live Free or Die” state.

But there’s trouble in town…

A colorful mural painted by High School students above Leavitt’s Bakery violates a town sign ordinance says the town’s zoning board.

Earlier, the town code enforcement officer declared that the mural is a commercial sign, violating zoning laws.

North Conway town officials say that the mural must be removed or “face enforcement proceedings and fines of $275 per day.”

For a doughnut shop, that’s probably a deep cut into a day’s profits.

Fortunately, the Institute of Justice has come to the rescue ( and taken the case.

They “filed a lawsuit against the town, claiming its regulations violate the First Amendment.”

Owner of the bakery, Sean Young, is thankful for the help after his repeated attempts to convince the town zoning authorities that his mural should not be treated as a commercial sign.

The problem is, claim the zoning board enforcers, that the sign which displays a colorful sunrise, also shows doughnuts, thus making it a commercial sign.

Meanwhile, high school students who spent many weeks designing and painting the mural for the bakery, are justifiably upset.

In a Boston Globe article (February 22, 2023), Shannon Larson reports that, “One student who helped paint the bakery mural said she would be heartbroken if the project was taken down…”

The student continued, “All the memories that went into it made me so happy. It’s a really big part of my high school life. It just kind of feels like a kick for the town just to take it down because it has doughnuts on it.”

Hopefully, the Institute for Justice lawsuit and the publicity will convince the town officials to make the right decision.

Read the full Boston Globe story here…

A final thought…

This story and others, brings to the forefront a deeper question about the seeming dictatorial power of local zoning boards across the land.

The once common expression, “It’s a free country,” is losing its relevance.

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