New developments with 'Starry Night' house mural

A Mount Dora couple is still battling the city over the “Starry Night” inspired mural covering their home and fence. 

Local officials say the painting is considered a sign and not up to code. They say it’s earning business for the artist and distracting people who pass by on Old US 441. 

“Looking at the same thing at the same time, it makes for an unsafe situation – another reason compliance needs to be achieved,” said Sherry Sutphen, who is representing the city, during a hearing Thursday. 

The hearing was all about fines, since the homeowners refuse to get rid of the artwork. According to their attorney Jeremy Talcott, a magistrate decided to increase the amount they owe the city to around $8,000, then it will go up $100 per day until the painting is covered up. 

“We still have the appeal going forward as to the underlying violation itself and that’s the far more important issue going forward,” Talcott said. 

He says the couple won’t hand over any money until a judge decides if the city’s code violation claim is legal. The homeowners say their son, who has autism, loves the artwork. On top of that, they say they feel they need to protect their constitutional rights. 

“Let me tell you, the first amendment is precious. And I will fight for this until the end,” said homeowner Lubomir Jastrzebski.