Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Architectural Review Committee Turns Down Sign

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Architectural Review Committee Turns Down Sign

Article excerpt

Byline: Lisa Woods, Shorelines staff writer

Beach Chic on Solana Road may have to start the Christmas shopping season without a sign.

The Architectural Review Committee Wednesday denied a sign request from Hilah Autrey, the shop's owner, after two of the four members felt that her half-inch raised lettering wasn't deep enough. Because the fifth committee member was absent, there was no one to break the tie and Autrey's application was denied on a technicality.

The review committee regulates exterior improvements to commercial and residential properties in the Overlay District, which includes most of Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Valley.

According to the committee's procedures, Autrey will have to wait 30 days until the committee meets again and will have to pay another $200 to resubmit her design plans.

"This is hurting my business; I am so incredibly upset," said Autrey, whose store sells decorative accessories and gifts. "I am going into the busiest season of the year without a sign."

Although Autrey's sign met the zoning rules in the Overlay District, the committee can apply an unwritten standard to projects to ensure they mesh with the vision of the community, said St. Johns County Planner Danielle Mayoros, a liaison for the committee.

County commissioners appoint the volunteer board, whose five members serve four-year terms. Wednesday's ruling wasn't the first time the committee has delayed or influenced a change in a business design plans.

The committee strongly opposed the trademark yellow arches of the McDonald's restaurant on Florida A1A, the teal trim on the Tournament Plaza shopping center and the design plans for the expansion of the Ponte Vedra Beach branch library, which initially had a tall, trapezoidal shape.

Last month it stalled Wachovia's replacement of the First Union sign at the Florida A1A branch. The sign replacement was part of a $14.3 billion merger.

Lynn Dowling, who is handling the installation of new signs at 50 bank locations in northeast Florida, said she has never run into problems like this before. …

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