Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wachovia Finding It Can't Bank on ARC's OK on Signs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wachovia Finding It Can't Bank on ARC's OK on Signs

Article excerpt

Byline: Lisa Woods, Shorelines staff writer

Wachovia Bank, which is replacing signs at hundreds of First Union banks nationwide as part of the banks' merger, has been turned down in its effort to replace the signs at a branch in Ponte Vedra Beach.

The Architectural Review Committee on Wednesday denied Wachovia's application for the sign change because it didn't meet the design criteria within the Ponte Vedra-Palm Valley Overlay District.

Commercial and residential owners in the Overlay District, which encompasses most of Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Valley, submit projects to the committee to ensure that buildings' signs, roofs, height, landscaping and color are consistent with the community.

Committee members said they voted to deny because the directional signs were larger than 2 square feet, the lighting for the ground signs was internal, not external as Overlay standards mandate, and the signs weren't compatible with the features of the building.

Wednesday's Architectural Review Committee meeting was the second time sign representatives for the local branch, at 601 Florida A1A N., appeared before the committee.

Lynn Dowling of Gainesville-based Dowling Signs said Wachovia would have a better chance appealing to the county. The decision to appeal rests with corporate officials, she said.

"The constitutionality of what the ARC board does is unbelievable," Dowling said. "It's the darndest thing I've ever seen."

First Union has 70 branches in the Northeast Florida market, which stretches from the Jacksonville area to the Panhandle. Wachovia hasn't had any branches in Northeast Florida; the closest branches are in the Orlando and Savannah, Ga., areas. Other banks involved are in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and several northeastern states.

As part of the merger, blue and green Wachovia signs will replace the familiar First Union signs, which are green with white lettering. …

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