Judge grants temporary restraining order against city, buying Mount Dora mural time

City fining homeowners $100 a day for Vincent van Gogh mural

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MOUNT DORA, Fla. – A federal judge has given Mount Dora homeowners with a Vincent van Gogh mural more time to attempt to save "The Starry Night" painting outside of their home. The judge granted a temporary restraining order against the city of Mount Dora.

The controversy surrounding the custom paint job on the West Sixth Avenue home has been ongoing since August, when homeowners Nancy Nemhauser and Lubomir Jastrzebski received a notice that the artwork on their perimeter fence was a code violation.

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Mount Dora mural.

The couple have been fined $100 a day for the postimpressionist mural, which adds up to more than $10,000 since the quarrel began.

The attorney for the homeowners filed a federal complaint and sought a temporary restraining order in an attempt to save the mural. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge James S. Moody granted that request.

Under the 14-day restraining order, the city will be unable to take any action to enforce the code or continue fining the homeowners.

The attorney for the homeowners said the judge's decision will help their case.

"This places the fines on hold until the hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction and enjoins the city from taking any other enforcement actions," attorney Jeremy Talcott said. "Most importantly, it shows that the judge believes we are likely to succeed on our constitutional claims. This is an important first step in our legal challenge to Mount Dora’s sign code, and a huge relief to the family, who can now breathe a sigh of relief while we prepare to make our first appearance before the judge in March."

A federal hearing is scheduled for March 6 in Ocala.

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