Wilmington works to address murals in city code, would allow more in certain districts

Wilmington works to address murals in city code, would allow more in certain districts

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - For years the City of Wilmington has treated works of public art, namely murals, the same way it does signs. Now, the city’s planning staff is looking to separate murals from their advertising counterparts.

The debate surrounding murals has come to a head over the past year after a downtown business was cited and told to remove a mural, which sparked a still-ongoing legal battle between the business owner, and the city.

Kathryn Thurston, the city’s zoning administrator, said that for years the city has been able to regulate murals the same way they regulate signs, but as murals become more popular, the city decided it was time to update the code.

“As of right now, they are permitted as any other wall sign which throughout most of the city you can have up to 20% of the wall covered with signage,” Thurston said.

But now, according to the draft ordinance, the city is looking to make some changes to how murals are viewed and treated, although, they would still be subject to wall sign area allowances. However, there would be some exceptions carved out for certain areas.

“We’re proposing to allow murals that exceed current size limitations for a wall sign along the entire length of Castle Street and on North 4th Street Red Cross Street to Nixon Street so the arts districts, that’s where we’re seeing murals pop up anyways...” Thurston said

It still won’t be a free-for-all, and murals will have to be maintained and kept up to standard, or face removal, but the new code could allow for more forms of public art within the City of Wilmington.

The reworking of the Land Development Code is an ongoing process but the draft is currently available for people to view online.

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