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Cottonwood Heights mural depicts burning temple

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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Some say a colorful mural on the side of a bar that depicts a fire burning at the base of the Salt Lake City LDS temple, a bikini-clad woman, a Catholic monk, and a police vehicle, is evidence that the inn's owner has a bone to pick with the city.

"He just has a perception really, kind of a paranoid perception, that we're trying to get him," said Cottonwood Heights Police Sgt. Scott Peck.

Peck said the mural, completed about 10 days ago on a concrete wall of the Canyon Inn at 3700 E. Fort Union Blvd. near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, has stirred discontent among some residents of Cottonwood Heights — but that there's nothing law enforcement can do.

"It doesn't look like they've crossed any lines," Peck said. "They haven't done anything illegal."

In a brief interview Friday, inn owner Jim Stojack said the mural represents "all things Utah, the good and the bad." He said the burning temple comes from the label of a beer bottle.

"You've got some really good officers and some that have an agenda," he said, noting Peck has checked on his bar often and has told Stojack that it should be shut down.

Peck said Stojack believes the city is trying to force him off his property by rezoning it for other businesses, but Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. said if Stojack believes that, he is wrong.

"That's just one of the examples of the paranoia," said the mayor, who spoke with Stojack early Friday. Another example, Cullimore said, is the mural's "corrupt" police car (the car's license plate reads "CRPT 1S").

The bar owner also believes law enforcement targets his customers for DUI arrests, Peck and Cullimore said.

"We don't sit on bars," Peck said. "We don't really care about the Canyon Inn, we have lots of other things to deal with."

In a recent encounter with Stojack, Peck said he was looking over police reports near the bar when Stojack approached him, recorder in hand, demanding he leave the property.

"I'm not leaving," Peck said.

The bar owner was visibly upset, Peck said, and eventually left.

The mayor said the mural, while done "in poor taste," is protected by free speech, and individuals who are offended by it should let the property owner know.

Cullimore said that while the fire surrounding the temple offends some people, "it depends on how you look at it."

"I feel a spiritual fire every time I go to the temple."

E-mail: sgarn@desnews.com, averzello@desnews.com