Salina city commissioners agree to stipulation in Cozy Inn case

SALINA, Kan. (KAKE) – Salina city commissioners have unanimously agreed to not pursue any penalties or fines against the Cozy Inn as long as a mural that’s at the center of a lawsuit between the restaurant and the city is not altered any further.

During a special meeting Monday, the Salina Post says that commissioners had to recess immediately into an executive session to discuss the lawsuit, as they would need to consult with an attorney for the public body, which would be deemed privileged under Kansas statute, before returning to vote.

Currently, Salina city code allows murals. But because the Cozy Inn sells hamburgers, and the mural depicts hamburgers as flying saucers, the mural would be considered a regulated sign instead of unregulated artwork, which is a violation of city code.

Cozy Inn owner Steve Howard and the Kansas Justice Institute filed a lawsuit against the city last month, saying the city’s sign code infringes on Howard’s right to freedom of speech. In addition, the Institute argues that the First Amendment does not allow the City to pick and choose which murals to allow based on the message or content of the mural.