Politics & Government

Mural on NoDa Dumpster: An eyesore or a painting that adds to neighborhood character?

Is it an eyesore that should be shielded with a fence?

Or is it a pretty mural that's adding to the character of NoDa, one of Charlotte's cutting-edge neighborhoods?

A year ago, property owner Paul Sires placed a private Dumpster behind the building he owned on North Davidson Street, which houses Pura Vida Wordly Art and a tattoo parlor. Sires hired local artist Osiris Rain to paint a mural on the Dumpster, which is now covered with pink and purple flowers and the face of a woman with her eyes closed.

"People love it," said Teresa Hernandez, who owns Pura Vida Worldly Art. "People take pictures in front of it all the time. In NoDa people come to see the murals, but they don't expect to see one on a Dumpster."

But the city's zoning rules require most Dumpsters to be hidden with some form of fencing. For several months, Sires has been haggling with the city over whether the city could either change its rules or give him a waiver.

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Local artist Osiris Rain said his "whole point was to make it more interesting, and to create work for artists." Property owner Paul Sires hired him to paint the mural in NoDa, but the city's zoning rules require most Dumpsters to be hidden with some form of fencing.

Sires said the city's planning department has told him it plans to address the issue, but it can't do that for two years. In the meantime, the Dumpster must be moved or shielded with a fence or some sort of screening.

Sires said he thought a fence or a screen was a bad idea because it traps trash on the ground. Hoping to convince the city he didn't need a fence, he paid for the mural.

"My whole point was to make it more interesting, and to create work for artists," Sires said.

The Historic North Charlotte Neighborhood Association sent the city a letter in March supporting the mural.

"We support and encourage adding broader language to the topic of a what can serve as a screen to allow areas of the city such as NoDa – as Charlotte’s acknowledged Art’s District – to continue to distinguish itself with its numerous murals, and quirky ability to find beauty in artistic treatment of even utilitarian objects such as utility boxes and trash cans," the letter said.

Sires said he sold the building two months ago, and isn't certain about what will happen to the Dumpster. He said may try and bring the dumpster to another location where it wouldn't need a fence.

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"People love it," said Teresa Hernandez, who owns Pura Vida Worldly Art. "People take pictures in front of it all the time. In NoDa people come to see the murals, but they don't expect to see one on a Dumpster."

The city's planning director, Taiwo Jaiyeoba, said he has tried to find a compromise.

"I like the mural myself," he said. "But the ordinance does not allow it at this particular time."

Jaiyeoba said there other areas in NoDa where a Dumpster mural could be allowed with a waiver from the zoning board of adjustment. But the property in question was rezoned 20 years ago, and he said there is specific requirement that any dumpster be shielded. He said the property owner could ask for a rezoning, but that could take months.

"If we have to allow it there, then we have to allow it on other places," he said.

He suggested that a mural be painted on the screening that surrounded the Dumpster.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs
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