New law won't let business owner put teddy bear on bench

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A business owner on Galveston's Strand is fighting to get his popular teddy bear named Truffles back outside of his popular chocolate shop.

Truffles is no longer allowed to sit outside on a city bench after a new ordinance took effect last year. Truffles is the de-facto mascot for the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory location in Galveston.

Demas Caravageli said Truffles has sat outside on the same bench for the last 25 years. Caravageli is now asking the city to make an exemption and applied for a certificate of appropriateness.

"I'll put it to you this way: As long as my permit gets approved, I'm fine with [the new ordinance]," said Caravageli. "It's one of those deals that I just think it is common sense that this bear is not offensive. He's not tacky. He's not unsightly. It's a warm bear that everybody loves."

Documents show staff recommended to the Landmark Commission that they deny the request.

A city spokesperson sent ABC13 the following statement:

"In November, the City of Galveston requested the owner remove the bear from the sidewalk because the shop owner did not have a license to use permit for the bear, which is required for any items placed in the public right of way. Had the shop owner had an existing License to Use permit for the bear, it would be grandfathered in and not subject to new regulations related to the Strand. Because of the placement of the bear, city code requires the owner to apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness and an LTU permit. The Certificate of Appropriateness is required for any item placed in front of a building in the historic Strand district that obscures the building's architectural features. The Landmark Commission will vote and decide whether to approve or deny the application. This is on [Monday's] Landmark Commission agenda."

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