Middle Tennessee mural with American flag, Magnolia flower causes stir

    FOX 17 News

    A new mural in downtown Manchester with an American flag and magnolia flower, isn't receiving a warm welcome from some.

    "My wife and I have worked in tourism marketing for a over decade an, a couple years ago conceptualized a community-wide mural program for the city of Manchester in an effort to revitalize a decaying downtown square while driving tourism and economic development. We’ve seen this successfully done in small towns like Brenham, Texas as well as big cities like Miami and Nashville," said Scott van Velsor, a local businessman and Manchester Historic Zoning Commission member, via email Wednesday.

    John Mancini is helping revitalize through his own business West Main Brick Oven.

    "You have to have economic revitalization along with historic preservation in order for the downtown to really thrive," Mancini said.

    "We need more establishments like this, and I think we're moving in the right direction," resident Paul McCullough said.

    Mancini said Wheeler Construction and Restoration owners on the square, wanted to replace their old mural with a fresh American flag and magnolia flower.

    "Once we had the zoning commission meeting and realized there wasn't really anything in place to govern it," Marcini said.

    Marcini, a commissioner as well, said there are no city ordinances that regulate artwork in the district.

    He and Van Velsor, a military veteran, say they received approval to paint the building and install an awning on May 3.

    "That we support the use of murals in the downtown zoning district. We painted the building and got it ready to go. The mural was started on Sunday and that's when the fun began really," said Marcini, with police being called on Sunday to stop Nashville-based artist: Tara Aversa.

    Mancini explains a couple of commissioners wanted a more traditional mural, "They went ahead and called the police and they came out and several of the city alderman, and they discovered that there was really nothing illegal that we were doing. Some of the people on the historic zoning commission would've preferred to have pictures of old buildings on the old buildings , which is fine but doesn't really draw tourism."

    With it being a civil issue, a local newspaper poll shows nearly 70 percent of residents are in favor of the mural, which is set to be complete next week.

    McCullough, resident says, " I work with Honor Flight.. so the American flag in any form to me is good: with or without a magnolia."

    Statement from Ray Amos, Chairman of the Manchester Historic Zoning Commission:

    The City of Manchester has always been proud of its downtown historic district which contains many structures from the 1800s. The Historic Zoning Commission was appointed in 2010 for the purpose of preserving and protecting our heritage and the unique and irreplaceable character of our historic downtown. Since that time, all property owners within the district have complied with the Historic Zoning Review Standards and applied for approval of any change to the exterior of their buildings. It was unfortunate and inappropriate for two members of the Historic Zoning Commission to paint a mural on the exterior of an historic structure after the Commission voted not to approve it until after the Board of Mayor and Aldermen were contacted for direction about adding a murals guideline to the review standards. The commission is in favor of murals, but there should be some regulation covering what can be placed in the Historic District.

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