Zoning officer: New fish mural breaks city code

SALEM – Having the business name on the Moonstone Massotherapy fish mural on the side of the Ellsworth Avenue building violates city zoning code, city Planning & Zoning Officer Patrick Morrissey said in a recent letter.

Building owner Scott Cahill addressed city council Tuesday about the letter sent to the Moonstone Massotherapy business owner, who is his tenant, noting how the letter said there was a violation of the sign regulations and that he would need to take it down from the building.

“Until I am dead, that will not happen,” Cahill said.

Cahill recently commissioned two young artists to paint murals on downtown buildings owned by him and his wife Lisa and their company C I Ohio Ltd., including the Moonstone Massotherapy building. They used spraypaint for all three efforts. The other two locations include a building at the corner of Lundy Avenue and Second Street (the upper floor wall facing Sugartree Alley) and a temporary board in front of a building being renovated on State Street.

He praised the young men’s efforts and talked about how they helped remove graffiti from buildings last month and then did something positive with the murals. He started his discussion by saying he planned to address successes and failures, calling some of the regulations in place failures.

“The fault I find is with the regulations,” he said.

According to the letter by Morrissey, “by itself, we feel confident the addition of the graphic/mural may not be a violation, however the addition of the words ‘Moonstone Massotherapy’ constitutes a business sign which requires a permit. Chapter 1195.04 (n) prohibits the painting of a business sign directly on the exterior wall of a building.”

In order to come into compliance, the letter said the words “Moonstone Massotherapy” would need to be painted on a sign board and then the board attached to the building.

“Prior to affixing your sign board to the building, the words ‘Moonstone Massotherapy,” that have been painted on the building, will have to be painted out. Prior contact with the zoning office could have avoided this situation,” the letter said.

The letter dated May 3 gave the business 30 days to come into compliance so a sign permit can be issued, noting there was no permit issued for the sign.

Cahill sent a letter to Morrissey on May 13 saying the building belongs to his company, C I Ohio Ltd. and he takes full responsibility for the building and any modifications to the interior or exterior, including the mural. He asked for all correspondence to be sent to him, not the tenant, and sent copies of his letter to Mayor John Berlin and Councilman Rick Drummond and Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey. Both Dickey and Drummond worked with the anti-graffiti group.

Morrissey said he’s dealing with the business owner because signs are the business owner’s responsibility. He also said nobody came to him ahead of time to ask about the regulations before putting up the mural.

He explained that having the name of the business on the mural is the problem, not the mural itself.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at mgreier@salemnews.net