Lithonia art center

LITHONIA, Ga. (CBS46) -- A Dekalb County business owner has started a in response to the City of Lithonia challenging him to stop the painting of a mural on the side of his non-profit.

The is a nonprofit providing a creative outlet for kids of all ages interested in the arts.

“I don’t know why anyone would want to attack that idea or anything,” said Steve Paul, the Founder/Owner of Lithonia Art Center.

The Lithonia and Stone Mountain chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority funded the mural with a donation of nearly $4,000. Several volunteers painted part of the mural on Martin Luther King Day.

“To see those children out here, painting, laughing, having fun,” said Denise Barrett, a Manager of Events volunteer at the Lithonia Art Center.

But just a few weeks later, code enforcement showed up at the door. “I got a warning,” Paul added.

On Feb. 15, the building owner, Steve Paul, was told by city officials he didn’t have the proper permit under the city of Lithonia’s sign ordinance.

“I shouldn’t have to get a permit for a mural, because there’s nowhere in the ordinance that says that a mural is considered a sign, and that’s what they’re trying to say,” Paul said.

The city told Paul to correct the issue by Feb. 26, but nothing has been done since. “I should be well in my rights to be able to paint on my own building, this is my property,” added Paul.

“There are so many other initiatives they could be focusing on that are causing a problem in the community, this is bringing life,” said Barrett.

CBS46’s Melissa Stern reached out to the Mayor of Lithonia and was told it’s an ongoing code enforcement case and the City of Lithonia does not comment on ongoing investigations.

“I was thrown back that they would actually try to challenge something that is really making the city look good,” Paul said.

Paul said he’s simply trying to provide for the children of the community and make it a better place.

“To help revitalize the city, to help bring life back to Center Street,” Paul added, “It’s not promoting my business, it’s not anything to attract anybody to come and patronize anything, it’s completely for the community…It’s not right.”

Paul said the mural will be completed. They plan on attending Monday’s town hall meeting to make their case.

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