Preservation Commission holding public hearing on proposed mural guidelines Wednesday at 5:15 p.m.

Published 6:42 pm Monday, August 8, 2022

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez Preservation Commission plans a public hearing on Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. to review guidelines for outdoor murals in the Natchez historic district and on landmarked buildings outside of the historic district.

The hearing will be held in the Council Chambers at 115 S. Pearl St.

The question of whether to allow murals on buildings in the city’s historic buildings has been a contentious issue for more than a year.

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Taylor Cooley, a professional photographer who has a studio and event space at 631 Franklin St., has applied to install murals on the side and back walls of the building she owns.

However, the issue has been tabled a number of times by the preservation commission. Its members have said they were waiting on guidelines for murals, which they had been told were forthcoming from the city’s planning department.

The work on guidelines for murals began during Rico Giani’s tenure as city planner. When Frankie Legaux took over that position in June, she made some revisions to the guidelines, which then went to City Attorney Bryan Callaway, who reviewed them to make certain they passed legal benchmarks.

After the public hearing, the Preservation Commission is expected to vote on whether to approve the guidelines. The committee members also may deny or table or add to or change those guidelines, Legaux said.

“The Preservation Commission is only making a recommendation. It’s the board of aldermen that will have the final approval on everything,” she said.

After the Preservation Commission, the guidelines will go to the city’s Planning Commission for its recommendation.

The Planning Commission has its next meeting on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 5:15 p.m., also in the Council Chambers at 115 S. Pearl St.

After getting a yeah or nay recommendation from the Planning Commission, the issue will go to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, perhaps as early as its meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 23.

Legaux said she has recommended that both commissions pass the proposed mural guidelines.

“We looked at similar guidelines for Boston, New York, Philadelphia, St. Augustine, and Savannah. St. Augustine is a little bit older than Natchez, I think. A lot of them have the same general recommendation. What we have in our proposed guidelines are the same things that the majority of these cities use,” Legaux said.

One of those guidelines is not painting over old murals already on buildings in the historic district, even if they are in a deteriorated state.

“If you want to remain historic, you leave those there. If you can find a picture of it, perhaps an owner would want to restore the mural. Most of the time, those are names of stores or businesses in town. You don’t want to paint over those, even if they are in bad shape. That’s history,” she said.