Excerpt from the Capital Gazette:
An attorney representing the owners of Tsunami filed a motion to dismiss the case surrounding a mural painted on the restaurant’s facade as the clash between him and city officials made its way to District Court this week.
Attorney Joseph Gormley filed a motion Monday that essentially makes the same argument supporters have made: the city doesn’t have the authority to regulate the mural.
“No trial can be held on the April or May Citations as they do not meet the legal requirements for municipal infraction citations,” Gormley wrote.
Restaurant owner Gavin Buckley and his partners received citations from the city after the Historic Preservation Commission determined the 20-by-50 foot mural was painted without proper approval.
Buckley has fought back. Buckley, who last month filed as a Democratic candidate for mayor, said the commission overstepped its bounds and holds no jurisdiction over the mural, itself a response to a citation for peeling paint.
District Court Judge Richard Duden postponed a hearing on the motions Tuesday, and set a new date on Tuesday.
Gormley said the postponement will give City Attorney Gary Elson an opportunity. The deadline for that response is Oct. 24.
Elson could not be reached for comment.
The restaurant commissioned Annapolis artist Jeff Huntington to create a 20-by-50-foot painting, which merged a golden-faced Buddha with the screaming nurse from a graphic scene in a 1925 Soviet silent film.
Because they did not seek the approval of the commission, it set the stage for a dispute over what constitutes an “alteration.” The issue has widened the divide between city officials, who oversee changes to buildings within the district to not lose its designation as “historic,” and those in the city’s growing arts community.
In October 2015, Chief of Historic Preservation Lisa Craig said the commission chooses not to regulate paint, but that “when it gets to the point where it obstructs or detracts the architectural characteristics of the building then (commission members) have to make a judgment call.”
The conflict has also led to a war of words between the restaurant’s owners and officials with the Historic Preservation Commission.
Buckley has said the issue is more about a small group of people looking to exert power over the city’s direction without having the authority.
Craig has maintained the issue is about code compliance.
In June, she said the two sides discussed having the issue jointly heard in Circuit Court. But the “failed good faith efforts” broke down, she said, making the citation to force a District Court date “the best way to expedite” the process.