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Waynesboro planners don't support bank's proposed sign of the times

April 13, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH and DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The Waynesboro Planning Commission on Monday spoke out against F&M Trust's request for an electronic sign, saying it doesn't fit at a downtown intersection with a school across the street.

Bank officials asked the planners to support the addition of an electronic message board to the existing sign at 200 E. Main St.

Because the sign is in the Town Center zoning district, the bank would need special permission from the zoning hearing board. Electronic signs are not allowed in the Town Center.

The planning commission voted unanimously to tell the zoning hearing board it is against the proposal.

F&M marketing director Ken Ditzler said corporate officials will discuss whether they want to continue with the zoning hearing board application. Of the 25 bank sites, bank representatives thought the location and amount of traffic could translate into a good spot for the electronic sign, he said.

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"We do announce community events. ... It's a community service and an opportunity for us," Ditzler said.

Electronic signs are used at three F&M locations in Chambersburg, Pa., and one in Shippensburg, Pa., Ditzler said. They can reach people younger than 45 who don't read newspapers, he said.

"It doesn't fit within the zoning ordinance for that area. The planning commission is required to go with what the rules say," said Stephen Monn, president of the planning commission.

The area is partially residential, plus distractions for motorists could be dangerous around St. Andrew Church and its school, Monn said. Approval could also lead to an application from a neighboring bank, he said.

Monn said the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce received a variance to install its sign before electronic message boards were included in local laws. Then, CVS Pharmacy put up its sign with permission to only change it once daily.

In August 2008, the Waynesboro Borough Council designated areas where electronic signs are allowed.

The signs are allowed for properties on the west side of South Potomac Street in the general commercial district, which includes the Red Roof Storage business on South Potomac Street and the Potomac Street Shopping Center.

They also are permitted on the south side of East Main Street in the general commercial district, which includes Waynesboro Mall and CVS Pharmacy. That means CVS can now change its sign more often.

The council was told by its solicitor that signs must be permitted somewhere in the borough. Otherwise, the outright prohibition could be challenged in court, according to published reports.

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