RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Union University will pay $35,000 a year to keep its illuminated “VUU” logos on its campus tower, signs that were installed without approval from the state or city of Richmond.

The university put four lighted signs on each side of the Vann Memorial Tower years ago, a move the Virginia Department of Historic Resources said violated VUU’s contract with the state. Julie Langan, the director of the Department of Historic Resources, told 8News that the tower wasn’t designed to hold heavy objects.

VUU’s preservation easement with the state’s Department of Historic Resources allowed the private university to get $340,000 in funding to restore the tower and adjoining Belgian Building. But the contract stipulated that alterations couldn’t be made to the two historic landmarks.

Langan said the state became aware of VUU putting the signage up when someone in the department caught a glimpse at the tower while driving. She told 8News that VUU refused to remove the signs when the department asked, a decision that led to a proposal that would allow the university to keep the signs.

“I took two years to reach but both VUU and the board [Board of Historic Resources] were sincere in their efforts,” Langan said Monday.

The university and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources are finalizing the agreement, which calls for an independent engineer to inspect the tower two times a year, VUU to pay $35,000 a year to keep the signs, for the school to add a preservation section to its master plan and sponsor two highway markers “to educate the public about the history of VUU and of the Belgian Building.”

“It is a fine,” Langan said of the $35,000 annual fee.

If the signs damage the campus tower, the agreement says VUU would be required to remove them.

The deal has been reviewed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin and needs to be signed by VUU President Hakim J. Lucas and Langan to be finalized. Langan told 8News she expects to sign the agreement this week, likely by Monday or Tuesday.

A spokesperson for VUU did not respond to 8News’ request for an interview or comment for this story.

VUU also didn’t get approval from Richmond’s Commission of Architectural Review, which denied the university’s request for the required certificate of appropriateness to install the signs.

The city’s commission ruled that the signs violate Richmond’s historic preservation guidelines, including not meeting rules “for scale, size and illumination” and that the sign “is installed in a way that damages and obscures a character-defining feature of the building.”

Dale Mullen, an attorney representing VUU, said during the city council’s Land Use, Housing and Transportation Committee meeting on Sept. 20 that his law firm worked with the state on the mitigation agreement. Mullen said he felt it would be “an odd situation” if the state agreed to allow the signs to remain but the city didn’t.

“That would be a strange juxtaposition of government because Virginia Union University, as you know, is a private, historically Black university located in the heart of Richmond,” Mullen told the committee.

The commission rejected VUU’s application for retroactive approval but Richmond’s City Council appears poised to reverse the commission’s decision and grant VUU the certificate, one of the steps the university must take for the city’s approval.

A resolution going before the city council for a full vote Monday, and with five of the city’s nine council members as patrons, overrides the commission’s decision and approves VUU’s application for a certificate of appropriateness.