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The Newberg City Council last week took a first step toward allowing public murals on buildings in residentially zoned areas

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - A recent city decision will allow murals to be erected on public buildings in Newberg.

The Newberg City Council last week took a first step toward allowing public murals on buildings in residentially zoned areas.

City staff recommending adopting the ordinance to allow for the change. City Attorney Truman Stone said the Aug. 5 meeting was a land use hearing, and because of timing, the council couldn't waive a second reading. So the council will discuss the issue again at its Aug. 19 meeting.

Assistant Planner Keshia Owens said in March that former Newberg Public Library Director Leah Griffith had sent a letter to the city requesting to allow murals on public buildings. A mural at the library would be erected at the nearby annex and would be the second such mural in the city as part of the Yamhill County Mural Project. The project is a creation of George Fox University art professor Luke Zimmerman and is also sponsored by the Newberg Rotary. The hope is to expand the program throughout the county.

Owens said the council adopted an amendment in April allowing the amendment. In July, the planning commission recommended the council adopt an ordinance to allow murals on public buildings in residential zones.

There was no public testimony at the Aug. 5 council meeting.

Owens said the city's code allows original murals on assembly and school buildings in residential zones; the amendment would allow them on public buildings in those zones as well. She said there are 25 public buildings in residential zones, with eight being schools. Of the 17 remaining buildings that could become home to murals under this amendment, the list includes the library annex, the public safety building, the downtown fire station and Herbert Hoover Park, Jaquith Park and Armory Park. The Newberg Masonic Temple is also on that list.

The other mural created by this GFU program is the giant pair of hands adorning Steve's Auto service on Hancock Street. As with that project, the annex mural is being designed and created by GFU students.

The annex was chosen, in part, for its location. It faces the Chehalem Cultural Center and is center stage for events like the Tunes on Tuesday concert series. What also sets it apart is that it won't be a mural that people just pass by. Because of its location for neighboring events, people will be staring at the mural for hours at a time.

The mural at Steve's Auto was completed in September 2018. The upcoming mural will likely be installed in two phases. The artists must deal with the code and would also have to wait for the annual concert series to wrap up on Aug. 27.

The project's first attempt was a mural on campus during the 2015-2016 school year, but that eventually fell through. Zimmerman then connected with Geoff Gilmore of Newberg Noon Rotary, who not only came through with funding but secured a location for the first mural.

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