Ridgeway council votes to scrub angel wings

Council Members Said They Did Not OK Mural
A stop order was issued by the town zoning administrator after the wings were painted on Olde Town Hall restaurant, one of the town’s historic buildings. | Barbara Ball

RIDGEWAY – The two giant angel wings painted last month on the side of the Olde Town Hall Restaurant in downtown Ridgeway will fly no more.

The town’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR) voted 3-0 Monday night to deny a request from Patsy Palmer to allow the wings on the building.

The next step – removing the wings from the wall – is the expensive part due to the fragile nature of the aged brick and mortar they are painted on.

In an interview with The Voice last month, Ridgeway Mayor Heath Cookendorfer said the Town would voluntarily bear the cost of having the mural properly removed from the wall, sparing Patsy Palmer, who consigned the mural, the expense of having it removed.

Ridgeway Town Clerk Vivian Case said town hall has received only one bid for the work so far. Historical preservation consultants, Felzer Consulting out of Tega Cay, S.C. submitted a proposal for onsite removal of the mural with environmentally safe products. The work would be done by Ford Restored out of Charleston at an estimated cost of $3,945 for labor and materials, plus the cost of mileage and travel expense.

In making her decision, board member Charlene Herring addressed the historical nature of the building and of the town itself, the precedent the mural would set and the possibility that it could negatively impact the town’s ability to receive much needed historical grants for the town and its buildings in the future.

While Herring thought the wings had artistic merit, she felt they would be better displayed on a movable object that could be used in temporary situations such as during Pig on the Ridge or Arts on the Ridge festivals.

BAR chair Ryan Martin took a different tack.

“I want to steer away from the talk of artistic merit and focus more on the procedures behind the mural,” Martin said.

According to Ridgeway Zoning Administrator Robert Hartman, the issue should have gone before the BAR to begin with.

“That did not happen.” Martin said. “As I recall it all came about through phone calls with the mayor. That’s not the proper procedure. We must follow procedure.”

Palmer reportedly said she had permission from town council to have the wings painted on the building which is owned by the Town.

Mayor Heath Cookendorfer confirmed as much to The Voice, saying, “When Patsy asked me if she could have the wings painted on the building, I thought it was a good idea and called the other council members to see what they thought. They all agreed it was, so I told her, “Yeah, go ahead.”

However, not only does town council not have the authority to approve such a project, council’s on-the-fly ‘vote’ is a violation of the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Councilman Rufus Jones told The Voice that, in hindsight, he realizes that he made a mistake to agree to the painting. Councilwoman Belva Bush Belton said she doesn’t remember actually agreeing to the painting going up on a specific building.

“We didn’t specifically ok this location, that location,” Bush told The Voice, “and it never came up for a vote or even to discuss it in depth. The next thing I knew, I was driving through town and it was painted on the building.”

Councilman Dan Martin said he also did not approve the wings being painted on the Olde Town Hall Restaurant.

“The concept was good, but I was concerned about the damage it could do to the brick and mortar. That’s a historic building and the bricks are old.” Martin said. “I would consider painting it on a board or on something that could be used for events and taken down.

Cookendorfer said he just wasn’t thinking when he gave Palmer permission to paint the wings on the wall.

Hartman subsequently issued Palmer and the Town of Ridgeway a Stop Order that stated: “The ‘wings’ graffiti shall be immediately removed by the Town of Ridgeway and Patsy Palmer from the Olde Town Hall building and must follow all correct procedures to not damage the bricks and mortar upon removal.”

Hartman further instructed the Town and Palmer to seek the assistance of the appointed town historian Jon Ward in determining proper removal of the paint from the brick.

Aesthetics aside, Ward, a preservationist for over 30 years, addressed the paint as an assault on the preservation of the structure and sent a letter saying as much to the mayor, members of council and the zoning administrator.

“I recommend immediate action by the Ridgeway Town Council in a public meeting to prohibit any further painting of murals on publicly owned buildings and approval of the Architectural Review Board on the use of such murals on privately owned buildings,” Ward wrote.

“The purpose of the Architectural Board is to preserve and protect historic and architecturally valuable structures, preserve and protect significant natural scenic areas and protect and provide for the unique, special or desired character of the [town’s] overlay district,” Hartman’s Order stated.

According to the Ridgeway Zoning Ordinance Section 705 – VIOLATIONS: If the zoning administrator shall find that any one of the provisions of this ordinance is being violated, he shall…notify in writing the person responsible for such violations…He shall order discontinuance of any illegal work being done…

Ridgeway Zoning Ordinance Section 707 – PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION: Any person violating any provisions of this ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined, as determined by the Court for each offense. Each day such violation continues shall constitute a separate offense. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the governing authority from taking such other lawful action as is necessary to prevent or remedy a violation.

“I told them (the BAR), “If you vote to leave it, then it stays,” Corkendorfer said in an interview with The Voice. “If they vote to remove it, then we’ll remove it.”

Comments

  1. Angela Harrison says

    Unless Council voted via phone calls again to remove the wings, no vote has been taken by Council as the headline states, nor has it been on the agenda.

  2. Angela Harrison says

    Unless the Council voted by phone again, there has been to vote to remove it as the headline states. It has not been on an agenda nor come to the table.

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