A Hilliard resident has received a second citation for having a sunflower mural painted on the side of her garage.

A Hilliard resident has received a second citation for having a sunflower mural painted on the side of her garage.

Kelley Daniel said she received a hand-delivered letter Feb. 19 from the city of Hilliard that stated the mural she painted last summer was in violation of city code.

"It shall be unlawful to locate, erect, construct, reconstruct, enlarge, change, maintain, or use any building or land in violation of any regulation or provision of the zoning code, or any amendment or supplement thereto adopted by council," the letter said, according to Daniel.

"My contention is that murals aren't even in the code, so to me, I feel like I'm not violating this," Daniel said.

In addition, Daniel said the letter also stated, "Garage colors should match or be compatible with those of the house. Exterior colors should be subdued. No more than two colors should be used on Old Hilliard buildings. Color combinations should be simple. Mural has nine colors and a complex design."

The Daniels' yellow and green home has had a red and white garage for more than 10 years. She said other Old Hilliard homes have garages with different colors.

Daniel said the city told her she has until March 1 to paint over the mural, but she can fill out an application to the Board of Zoning Appeals for another hearing on April 15.

Daniel was supposed to go before the Hilliard BZA Feb. 18, but the case was withdrawn, according to a staff report document.

"They gave me a citation in December to paint over the mural by Jan. 8, and that was what I was appealing to go in front of the BZA," Daniel said.

Two days before the hearing, Daniel received a hand-delivered letter from the city. The letter, signed by zoning compliance officer Candy Thomas, states: "Upon further investigation by the city, we are hereby withdrawing our citation dated Dec. 29, 2009, which results in the withdrawal of the case before the BZA.

"Although the current citation is withdrawn, the city continues to believe that a violation has occurred; therefore, following confirmation of the details of the violation, it is the city's intent to issue a new notice of violation by the end of the week."

ThisWeek's call to Thomas has not been returned.

"You know, I really want to work with the city, and I did from the beginning, but I almost feel like I am being punished," Daniel said.

The artistically-trained Daniel said she was repainting her garage last July when she decided to paint her third mural.

"When you're an artist, you're looking to paint something," she said. She knew the Starliner Diner on Cemetery Road has a mural, which was painted 15 years ago.

Daniel said once she started painting the sunflower, she learned that it is Hilliard's city flower.

"I'm painting something historic on the side of my building, and everybody says, 'I didn't even know that was the city flower'," she said.

Ed and Kelley Daniel have lived at their Madison Street residence for 25 years and raised their children there. Kelley Daniel said one of her neighbors told the city about the mural.

"(City planner) John Talentino came down and said all you really need to do is show your color palette to the city for approval for historic colors."

Daniel said after doing so, she was told to go in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission because she had violated the city's historic district guidelines.

"After looking at the codes and the guidelines, we saw there was nothing in there about murals," Daniel said. "In the guidelines, there are suggestions about colors, but it doesn't say that you 'shall' paint two colors on your building. It says you 'should,' and the guidelines say that is a recommendation when you use the words 'should' and 'may,' but 'shall' they can enforce. They're enforcing it, but it's really a recommendation. So that's my beef.

"There's nothing in the city of Hilliard code about murals. They've put it under significant architectural change, but if you look that up under the code, it talks about demolishing a building, adding onto a building. You know, there's nothing about paint on it."

In November, the commission rejected Daniel's request for a waiver. The citation came next, then Daniel's appeal, and the city's withdrawal.

"I'm hoping city council is going to take this on," Daniel said. "I really think that's where it belongs, that they need to make a code and guidelines for murals. You can regulate it and say what you can and can't do on what kind of building.

"In my opinion, I feel like maybe the city is worried about the next person that wants to paint a mural and how to control the content," she said.

"It's not a council issue at this time, it's an enforcement issue, and enforcement is delegated to the executive branch," said council president Brett Sciotto. "I'll let the executive branch handle it, that's their job. If this goes down a judicial path, we'll watch that closely.

"At some point in the future, council could look into the broader topic of public art, but I don't feel compelled to react in this one instance when the process is running its course," Sciotto said.

Daniel defends the value of murals.

"They bring people to your town, they beautify your neighborhood. I can't tell you how many people have said, 'I wouldn't have gone to Hilliard, but when I heard about the sunflower, I had to go see it.' They came out here, and who knows, maybe they ate in a restaurant."

Daniel said she'd like to see Columbus-based mural artist Curtis Goldstein paint a historic mural in Old Hilliard.

The mural has received a lot of attention, including a blurb in USA Today. Daniel said she's received a lot of support for the mural, and she's enjoying the sunflower while she can, even in the snow.

"My husband took a picture of the snow coming down, and there's the sunflower in the background. It reminds you that spring is on the way. Sunflowers make you smile."