Progress toward a process: Auburn exploring future of murals

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 5:03 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - A hot debate: Should a mural in Auburn be allowed to stay or does it have to go?

The discussion over murals in Auburn continues and there may be some progress for a process very soon.

The mural on the side of Bedzzz Express on Opelika Road has caused quite a stir - it violates a city ordinance and may ultimately face removal.

Auburn City Council has what is called a “meeting of the whole” prior to city council meetings where things can be discussed in a committee fashion outside of the council agenda. The Tuesday meeting offered some clarity from the city’s perspective on the topic of murals.

“The law on the books today has to be enforced regardless of circumstances,” said Megan Crouch, Auburn city manager. “And the city council doesn’t have the ability to sit here tonight and change an ordinance such as a zoning ordinance because of state law, advertising requirements and other things where we need to notice the public.”

Businesses do get a pass if artwork on a building is considered part of their official signage, but as more murals:

“Murals are contained in the ordinance as a prohibited sign.”

In order for the city to look at making any sort of amendment to the ordinance on the books, there’s a process involved.

“So, no matter what you do, even if you were going to discuss it, it has to start with planning commission because it’s a zoning ordinance change,” Crouch added. “The council can instruct the planning commission to do so.”

The discussion was not specific to the Bedzzz Express mural, but the conversation fits the situation. And it’s one that Ward 3 Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Beth Witten wants to see progress.

“It really came about when I saw that our sign ordinance,” Witten stated. “To me, it’s an unintended consequence that it prohibits murals and art in the form of murals. I would think that we as a body could look at that and determine how we could be more open in creating public art.”

There is currently no process in Auburn for someone to apply for a mural installation.

But going forward, it could be a possibility as the city is looking to form a study group focusing on public art.

The owner of Bedzz Express is appealing the ruling that the mural has to be removed.

Copyright 2022 WTVM. All rights reserved.