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Legal Battle Over Ice Cream Cone Heats Up In Hamptons

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Hamptons town and a local business owner are screaming over ice cream.

The Village of Westhampton Beach has racked up an $18,000 legal bill fighting an ice cream shop owner over an oversized ice cream cone.

As WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reported, the $18,000 question is whether the 7-foot fiberglass cone is considered a work of art or a sign.

Legal Battle Over Ice Cream Cone Heats Up In Hamptons

The massive cone was stolen from outside Shock Ice Cream shop two days after it was placed in front of the shop, but that hasn't ended the fight.

The shop's owner, Elyse Richman, was fined hundreds of dollars by the village for what it deemed to be an illegal sign, since the cone had no words on it.

"The size of it, design of it. It walks like a duck, it talks like duck, it's a duck," village Mayor Conrad Teller told Hall.

"The ice cream cone is a sign according to my building inspector," Teller told CBS 2.

The legal battle over the sign has lasted three years and cost the village $18,000.

"I live in this village. It's my taxpaying money paying to fight myself," Richman told Hall.

Richman contends the cone was a sculpture.

Loyal customers said the ice cream controversy is much ado about nothing.

"It's art, it's a sculpture. Come on, it's not a sign," Westhampton Village resident John Holder said.

"People should really lighten up ... that's crazy to me," Quogue resident Lara Margolis added.

Richman said she could just pay the $350 fine, but points to a legal victory she won last year before the village appealed.

"Because it was dismissed. The judge threw it out on 10 different reasons," Richman told CBS 2.

The mayor contends the judge was wrong and said he'll press on through the courts no matter what the cost.

According to local officials, the town's sign ordinance is meant to promote a low-key downtown.

A replacement cone very similar to the one first put outside three years ago and later stolen is now kept inside the store, which is not a violation.

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