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DeLand city commissioners have approved an ordinance that creates a committee to approve proposed murals. 

Murals have been a part of the DeLand landscape for years. One of the city’s most popular murals, the DeLand Wings by Erica Group, was an accidental installation first chalked on a Downtown DeLand wall to serve as a photo backdrop, and made permanent after the Wings became an instant hit.

City Attorney Darren Elkind brought the idea of a Mural Committee to the commission because no official rules for installing murals existed in city code

“This ordinance, this program, is completely unnecessary until somebody puts something up that you really don’t want to have,” Elkind told commissioners April 19. 

After all, he explained, the city has been fortunate so far — DeLand’s murals represent the city well. But, he said, if a mural were to be put up that city officials dislike, there would be no legal standing to have it removed. 

Since its first reading April 5, the ordinance received some concern from the City Commission. 

Fears of stifling creativity or creating unnecessary red tape abounded. Ultimately, with the recognition that rules could be amended down the road, the ordinance received a unanimous vote from all present city commissioners. Commissioner Jessica Davis, who voiced concern about the proposed ordinance when it was first presented but voted in favor of it, was absent from this meeting. 

Jane Doe owns a business on the south side of DeLand and thinks a mural on the side of her building could help her bring in business and make the shop more attractive. Doe fills out an application to put a mural on her store. 

To be approved by DeLand’s new Mural Committee, Doe’s application must include information about who will put up the mural, whether the owner of the building — if she does not own it herself — supports the idea, what materials will be used, and what the maintenance plan will be, as well as a visual that shows what the mural would look like. 

Since Doe’s mural is not in the city’s historic district, her proposal can go directly to the Mural Committee without a stop before the Historic Preservation Board. If her mural had been in the historic district, the Historic Preservation Board would have considered the proposal first and sent its recommendation to the Mural Committee.

The Mural Committee will then meet to discuss Doe’s proposal in a public meeting

If a majority of the Mural Committee members believe the proposed mural, per the ordinance, “exhibit[s] exceptional design, material, and application standards,” Doe will get a green light to proceed, at which point her selected artist can put paintbrush to wall. 

If a hang-up appears, such as an unfavorable vote from the Mural Committee that Doe believes is undue, Doe can appeal the decision within 10 days of the Mural Committee vote to the DeLand City Commission, which will have the final say.

— Noah Hertz

The Mural Committee will consist of five members from the DeLand area with some background or involvement in the arts. Members will be appointed by the DeLand City Commission. 

City Manager Michael Pleus told The Beacon that the commission could begin appointing members to the new committee as soon as the City Commission’s May 17 meeting.

The purpose of the committee, Elkind explained, is not to police art or regulate the content of murals, but to ensure that a mural’s content, materials and impact on buildings are up to snuff. 

The DeLand City Commission meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month in the City Commission Chambers, 120 S. Florida Ave. All meetings are open to the public. 

To read the full text of the Mural Committee ordinance as approved by the DeLand City Commission, click below.

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