Town council told him he couldn’t build a garage, but it can’t tell him to take down his giant statue of a middle finger… it’s public art, protected by the First Amendment
Ted Pelkey of Westford, Vermont, says his town council has been giving him the run around on a building permit for a commercial garage for 10 years.
When it flat-out denied his request citing “no good reasons” last November, Pelkey couldn’t bite his tongue anymore.
He commissioned a local woodworker to carve a statue of a middle finger out of a 700-pound block of pine and then erected it on a 16-foot pole in his yard, complete with night-time lighting.
In total, the project cost him $4000 and he says it was worth every penny.
“I’m fed up and it was time to do something,” Pelkey told NBC5.com.
The requested permit was for an 8,000-square-foot garage he wanted to build on his 11-acre, rural property, so he could move his business to his home, instead of its current out-of-town location.
His main business is cleaning spools for a monofilament line company. Pelkey and his son also do some truck repair on the side.
“It’s a low impact thing,” Pelkey told The Burlington Free Press. “We have such little traffic you’d wonder if we were open.”
The council’s meeting minutes reveal council members were concerned about security lights, no different from those used on houses, and the fact that one side of the garage would be seen from a distant road.
What can now be seen, from every direction, is Pelkey’s giant statue, and his neighbors don’t seem to mind it.
“I think it’s beautiful,” one man told NBC. “I wish I had one.”
Pelkey has no plans to take it down anytime soon, and apparently the town council can’t make him. The zoning department said it can’t be considered a billboard, which are illegal in Vermont, and instead falls under the category of public art, which is protected by the amendment to free speech.