Burgaw postpones decision on ordinance to bring murals to town

Town commissioners are meeting on Tuesday, March 14, to go over a new ordinance that defines what a mural is.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 9:19 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:39 AM EDT
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BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - Southeastern North Carolina is full of history, and some towns are also supporting efforts to bring new beauty and art to historic buildings.

The Town of Burgaw has seen murals within the downtown area in the past, but mainly from movie sets.

Town commissioners met on Tuesday, March 14, to go over a new ordinance that defines what a mural is. The board left the public hearing “open to continue more conversation, consideration and further public input to revise the proposed amendment.” Despite getting the green light from the planning committee already, tonight’s decision doesn’t come without some past controversy, and the council decided to continue the public hearing to a later date.

The town once had a mural in place in 2017 called “Pender Panorama,” but it was taken down last year for a building remodel. Not everyone was happy with that decision, especially after finding out that it might not be able to be put back up.

Pender Panorama existed on planks of wood, not the building’s wall, which is why the town wants to define what a mural is while putting some guidelines in place.

The town looked into 11 communities that have murals and compared ordinances to see what they allow and how Burgaw can still protect its historic character while allowing mural installations.

“There’s currently not any standards for murals and we the town had one mural that was placed on a building here, which was on the building that we’re renovating across the parking lot. That mural has had to be taken down for renovations. So, we are looking for other opportunities for businesses and partners to join in and to offer murals, but we want to have standards to make sure that they’re properly kept up and properly maintained.” said James Gantt, Burgaw town manager.

Gantt then went on to explain what their definition of a mural is, based on research and findings from other areas.

“The definition of a mural that our planning department has developed was based off of a number of other definitions that were researched, there were 20 definitions that were researched. The vast majority of those definitions require it to be painted directly onto the wall and not something that is mounted to the wall after the fact.”

When it comes to what is allowed, business owners will have the liberty to exercise their first amendment rights on their walls. The town would make sure that the mural is maintained so that it doesn’t become faded or in disrepair. Additionally, it also needs to be placed on the side or the back of the building, not on the front.

“One of my goals on the council and I think the rest of the board would agree, that we want to promote as much cultural diversity as we possibly can. I think having a mural that is so different than what we would normally see on an everyday basis does that. We want to make sure that that we are promoting, creating and fostering a culture and environment that tells everyone that they’re welcome,” said Austin-Shane Gaskins, Pender Arts Council president.