A city appeals board this afternoon unanimously rejected an Historical Commission order to remove a mural painted on the wall of a building at 410 S. 15th St.

The Board of Licenses and Inspection Review took just eight minutes to decide that Dee Chhin's

could remain on the wall where she painted it more than six years ago.

"I'm just happy it's over," said Chhin. "Finally, I can focus on something else that's not so controversial."

"I'm shocked. This has been six years in the fighting. I am just amazed," said Michael Sher, the Center City real estate broker who commissioned the mural and funded the legal fight to keep it.

City officials said it would be up to the Historical Commission to decide whether to appeal today's ruling to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

Sher has said that he commissioned Chhin, a Cambodian emigre, a transsexual and an aspiring artist, to paint the mural in 2001 in part to dissuade graffitists from tagging the building's north wall on narrow Waverly Street.

When officials at Peirce College, whose campus is across 15th Street, learned that the mural did not have a permit, they complained to the Historical Commission.

The commission, in turn, cited Sher because the 1850 brick townhouse is in the Rittenhouse-Fitler Residential Historic District.

The designation, established in 1995 to preserve the character of the old residential neighborhood, means owners cannot alter building exteriors without obtaining Historical Commission approval.

But through the complexities of Philadelphia's permit laws, the mural was granted "interim approval," which allowed it to remain for four years before Sher had to apply for an extension.

Those four years passed, and in January the Historical Commission twice voted that the mural must be removed, setting the stage for today's hearing.