Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Panel Votes to Stay Clear of Criticism of Sign Variance

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Panel Votes to Stay Clear of Criticism of Sign Variance

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon, Shorelines staff writer

While several civic groups have piled on criticism over the St. Johns County commission's decision to allow a large Office Depot sign in Ponte Vedra Beach, another government body won't join the fray.

The Ponte Vedra Beach Municipal Service District board rejected a resolution Monday that would have officially criticized county commissioners for their approval of a variance allowing an 85-square-foot sign at the pending Office Depot store at the Tournament Plaza on Florida A1A. The exemption lets developer Toney Sleiman erect a sign that exceeds the county's limit of 24 square feet in Ponte Vedra Beach.

But the MSD trustees voted 5-2 Monday evening against a resolution criticizing the exemption that was proposed by Trustee Al Hollon.

MSD Chairman Doug Crane was the only trustee besides Hollon to vote in favor of the resolution; he said the board needs to stand with local civic groups that have voted to condemn the commission's action surrounding Office Depot. The Ponte Vedra Beaches Coalition and the St. Johns County Civic Association Roundtable have both approved resolutions criticizing the commission's variance granted for the Office Depot sign.

"This [proposed resolution] would be working in harmony with the coalition," Crane said. "I think there are certain things where we need to work together on."

But the majority of the MSD board disagreed.

"Personally, I may not agree with an 85-square-foot sign, but I disagree with the MSD getting involved with this," said MSD Trustee Ashley Rea. "I don't think it's this board's place to get involved in that."

But Hollon argued the variance came without consideration from the Ponte Vedra Beach Architectural Review Committee and more large signs could pop up in the area and ruin the character.

"It's like a domino effect," Hollon said, "if the Board of County Commissioners does not intend to enforce this."

But County Commissioner Bruce Maguire, who represents the Ponte Vedra Beach area, said signs already exist that exceed the size limit and there's been no run on oversized signs. …

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