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Editorials

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Is that a banana on your house ?

Is it art? Is it an ad? West Lafayette officials are still trying to figure it out, but the owners of an apartment management company can keep their banana for now.

Yes, a giant banana – painted across two sides of a house – is at issue as officials consider changes to the city sign ordinance. Revisions were already in the works when Granite Management hired an artist to paint the eye-catching mural in May. The company uses the graphic in its marketing.

City officials, however, decided the striking image constitutes a sign under the Tippecanoe County Unified Zoning Ordinance. Both supporters and detractors weighed in on the painting, which enjoys a high-profile location near the Purdue University campus. Former Purdue basketball standout Robbie Hummel, coincidentally, is featured on Granite’s website, with bananas prominently displayed.

“Our read on it is that it does meet the definition of a sign, so it is going to have to meet the requirements for signage,” City Engineer Dave Buck told the Lafayette Courier Journal. “It does have a commercial message. Is it art? That’s not a question we’re going to try to answer. One person’s art is another person’s sign.”

When officials and Granite Management representatives met this month, no decision was made on the fate of the painting. Mayor John Dennis said he hopes a compromise can be reached.

Would local officials find the design as, excuse us in advance, unapeeling? The Plan-it Allen comprehensive plan encourages the integration of public art in improvements but also calls for “context-sensitive” design.

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