Photo: Tom Benitez, Daily Commercial

“The clock continues to tick for a Mount Dora homeowner to paint over a massive mural adorning her house after the City Council declined Thursday night to suspend fines until a court sorts out the dispute.

Early this year, Nancy Nemhauser commissioned a stylized representation of Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ on a masonry wall outside her home. City code officers initially classified the work as graffiti and ordered it painted over, but the city’s Code Enforcement Department and staff recently reclassified it as an illegal sign. The decision was upheld on Sept. 29 by a city magistrate, who gave Nemhauser 30 days to paint over the mural or face fines.

Undeterred, Nemhauser’s artist, Richard Barrenchea, is extending the mural to cover the entire outside of the house.

On Thursday, Nemhauser’s attorney, James Homich, asked the council to suspend the magistrate’s order while he takes his case to Circuit Court.

He noted that the city did so for Main Street Leasing, which had five large signs on the side of its downtown building that officials deemed illegal.

Homich asked for the same consideration for Nemhauser. The council declined.

He accused the city of ‘selective enforcement…’

City Manager Robin Hayes told the council that she asked for a stay on the sign violations against Main Street Leasing and 13 other cited businesses to give staff and council time to review the ordinance.

But Hayes noted there are different sign regulations for businesses than for residences and reminded council that they will have a chance to review the business sign ordinance at a future workshop. She suggested a separate workshop to review the sign ordinance for residences and for murals… ”

–Roxanne Brown, Daily Commercial