When is a mural a wall sign? BOA approves large painted sign for J&K

Published 6:39 pm Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thursday, the Board of Adjustments arm of the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a local auto store’s large mural. Although the painting on the side of J&K Automotive & Accessories, at 925 Hustonville Road, doesn’t follow the current or newly, incoming sign regulations, the board has allowed the business to keep the mural.

Several weeks ago, J&K had an artist paint an eye-catching hot rod and the business’s initials on the south side of its building. But the owners soon found out the graphic was considered a sign under P&Z regulations and it wasn’t compliant with the city’s sign ordinance.

Their options were to paint over the artist’s work; drastically reduce the graphic; or request a variance from the Board of Adjustments to keep the sign as is, said P&Z Director Steve Hunter on Thursday.

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Currently, signs on commercial buildings cannot be larger than 5% of the wall area. Even with new sign regulations, which will soon take effect allowing signs to be 10% of the wall area, J&K’s still wouldn’t be compliant — it’s nearly 46% of the wall area, Hunter said.

“This building got painted with the understanding that they could do murals or paint walls because they’re all over town,” Hunter said. “So we’ve had to come in and say, ‘You can paint them there, but you can’t paint them here.”

At the Board of Adjustments meeting Thursday, J&K requested that they be allowed to keep the sign.

“There’s been some confusion out amongst town, of folks that are outside the historic district, of how much wall they can cover up,” Hunter said. “The confusion came in because we have several painted walls in Danville. A couple of them got variances; a couple of them were grandfathered in; and a bunch of them didn’t have to go through any approval. So that’s where the confusion came in.”

Plus, “The artist that was hired was under the impression that painted signs weren’t the same as other wall signs,” he said.

“We’ve painted some entire walls downtown. The perception is how can we paint walls and the 5% rule doesn’t apply? What’s confusing is the 5% rule doesn’t apply when you’re in the historic district. And in the historic district, it’s been determined that it’s public art, or art, like the mural (on South Third Street) and the sign on Sherwin Williams building (next to the Art Center of the Bluegrass), then it’s exempt from the 5% rule.”

Without much discussion, the BOA unanimously approved J&K Automotive’s variance to keep the hot rod mural.