With high unemployment, a struggling economy and shrinking revenues, you would think the last thing on the minds of Hilliard city officials would be Kelly Daniel's garage.

With high unemployment, a struggling economy and shrinking revenues, you would think the last thing on the minds of Hilliard city officials would be Kelly Daniel's garage.

However, when Daniel painted a sunflower mural on the side of her garage in Old Hilliard, her creation attracted not only the attention of casual passersby but that of Hilliard code enforcement officer Candy Thomas.

It's Thomas' job to enforce the city code. After inspecting Daniel's garage, she concluded that the sunflower mural painted on the side of the building violated city code.

Daniel was issued a citation in December, ordering her to paint over the mural by Jan. 8. The high temperature on Jan. 8 was 21 degrees. The low was 10 degrees. Not exactly optimal exterior painting conditions by anyone's standards.

Daniel was scheduled to appear before the Hilliard Board of Zoning Appeals on Feb. 18 to appeal that citation, but two days before the hearing she received a hand-delivered letter signed by Thomas notifying her that the case was being withdrawn by the city.

The letter also stated that "although the current citation is withdrawn, the city continues to believe that a violation has occurred; therefore, following confirmation of the details of the violation, it is the city's intent to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."

As promised, Daniel received another hand-delivered letter at 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19 with a new citation. The new citation gave her until March 1 to paint over the mural. Daniel can fill out another application to request a variance from the BZA at its April 15 meeting.

According to the letter, the city had determined Daniel was in violation of city code, which states it is 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 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."

Daniel says her yellow-and-green home has had a red-and-white garage for more than 10 years and that other Old Hilliard homes have garages with different colors.

Murals are common in central Ohio. They appear on buildings in The Short North in Columbus, downtown Grove City and even in Hilliard, at the Starliner Diner on Cemetery Road.

Daniel's mural subject - the sunflower - just happens to be Hilliard's city flower.

As members of Mayor Don Schonhardt's administration work to make Hilliard one of central Ohio's premier communities, the desire to dress the city up with a fresh coat of paint is admirable. But covering up the artwork on Kelly Daniel's garage seems an odd place to start and a less than prudent use of city resources.

The issue hasn't set well with ThisWeek Hilliard readers either. Shortly after the story was posted on www.ThisWeekNews.com, readers started weighing in. Virtually all of them side with Daniels.

"Seriously, doesn't the city of Hilliard have more important things to worry about," one Hilliard resident wrote.

"Hilliard has way bigger problems that what is painted on the side of a garage," wrote another reader.

"They forget what is important," another Hilliard resident wrote. "Oh well, we vote."

While codes are an important aspect of all quality communities, the application of common sense when enforcing those codes makes all the difference. As another reader wrote, "Public servants serve the public need. In this case public servants demand that a good citizen of Hilliard serve them by feeding their ego to enhance what they see as power."

Hilliard citizens want a safe community to raise their families in. They want decent streets and good businesses. They don't have time to worry about sunflowers painted on a garage. Neither should our elected officials.