BY LAUREN HENRY
The Greeneville Historic Zoning Commission gave Capital Bank permission Tuesday to install new signage at the bank's main branch, located at 100 N. Main St., the corner of Main and Depot streets.
At the Tuesday morning meeting in the Greeneville Town Hall boardroom, however, some commission members expressed concern that the proposed signage would not fit the mainly traditional architectural and signage style of the historic downtown area.
Even so, in the end the commission made the decision to allow the bank's proposed signage.
The sign that concerned some commission members will involve letters about two feet tall and will stretch close to 20 feet across.
A five-foot Capital Bank logo above the letters on the side of the building will be visible when one is driving south on N. Main St.
'WORRIED ABOUT PRECEDENT'
"I'm worried about the precedent it will set," said Roger Hankins, a member of the commission.
Hankins, a professional architect, voiced concern over the size of the sign, the high placement above street level, and the fact that the sign will be backlit.
The sign will be illuminated with LED lighting to make the letters visible at night.
The plan also includes replacing the current street-level sign on the corner of N. Main and E. Depot streets, to match the company's name and color scheme.
The plaque on the side of the building at street level that reads "Greene County Bank" will remain. The plaque has been there for many decades.
Hankins explained that he was concerned that, if the commission allowed the large illuminated sign, other Historic District businesses would want to build ones of similar size and using similar lighting.
"I am opposed to the size of the letters because it's not just the bank; it is the church," Hankins said in regard to Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church which is located at the corner of N. Main and Church streets, across N. Main from the bank.
Although the church is not directly across from the bank, the sign would be very visible from the church.
"Just for a stand-alone building, the size of the letters is fine, and it's a very handsome sign.
"But when you plug it into the historic area of downtown Greeneville, I really question the wisdom of a lighted sign that high up in the air," he said.
Stacy Lee with Advantage Sign Company attended the meeting to defend the sign plans.
"On that size of building, it's really not going to be that huge of a sign," Lee told commission members.
The sign will match the bank's green color scheme, and the raceway -- a term for the piece of material connecting the letters -- will be painted to match the building.
"The only thing that will actually be seen from the ground will be the sign letters," Lee said.
Chairman Sarah Webster said that the Historic Zoning Commission is primarily interested in "keeping with the ambience of the downtown."
"Technically, they could have a monstrous sign for that size building," Webster said, referring to the town's sign ordinances.
"Does that fit into our Historic District?" Melinda Hickerson, a commission member, asked.
"We can't say they have to have a sign that was designed for, say, Williamsburg," Webster said. "That is the sign that was developed for their company. It is their signature signage."
Webster said that the town has had previous incidences where obstructed signs, or simply not enough signage, made it difficult for people to find buildings downtown.
"There is a perception that if you are looking for something, you need to be able to see it out of your car window while driving ... if it is a business or a bank or that type thing," Webster said.
Following the discussion, Hankins made the motion to approve the signage but wanted his reservations to be noted in the minutes of the meeting should the issue ever come up again.
"I would have to think it through to know what we are really approving after this.
"Once we see a lighted sign of this size downtown, trust me, they are not the only people that can afford or want a lighted sign," Hankins said.
ADDITION TO HOME
The commission also approved plans for an addition to Stephanie and Shane Hite's residence at 308 N. Main St.
Emily and David Rivers, the parents of Stephanie Hite, were present at the meeting to discuss the plans for the addition.
The roof, shingles, paint and brick will match the rest of the house, it was pointed out.
"It will mirror exactly the gabled roof on the other side and tie in perfectly," Mrs. Rivers said.
"This house was designed by the student of Frank Lloyd Wright, and it is really special that Greeneville has this," Webster pointed out.
"They have the original blueprints, that Stephanie has framed," Mrs. Rivers said.
The commission approved the plans without any opposition.
The commission did not discuss the application for windows and skylights at Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Webster said the church will come before the commission again at a later time to discuss the windows and skylights.