Jan. 17, 2007
Injunction to block historic Ashland house demolition remains in effect
By Al Lawrence
New Journal Correspondent
Ashland - Wayne County Judge Mark Wiest continued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday, blocking the demolition of the historic Alva N. Myers home on Center Street.
Members of the Center Street Historic District Association say their $85,000 offer to buy the Alva N. Myers house at 408 Center St. from the Ashland County Historical Society was the value determined by a certified appraiser. Four association members spent nearly two hours on the witness stand Tuesday testifying in support of a preliminary injunction to save the house from demolition.
The controversy began last summer, when the historical society asked the Ashland Historic Preservation Bard for a permit to tear down the home, claiming it would cost $1 million to fix up for public use. This preservation board, which is authorized by a new city ordinance to review proposed structural changes in the area between Maple Street and Vernon and Morgan Avenues, denied this request Aug. 2.
The Board had 60 days to review alternative uses for the building and the effect demolition would have on adjoining structures and the area. After 60 days, the city, board or any other public or private body could make a bona fide purchase or lease offer for the building. Rodney Mohr, association president, said the organization hired the appraiser in an effort to meet the “bona fide” offer requirement, which was not defined in the law.
Mohr said the association “absolutely” was prepared to buy the house and had $15,000 available for a down pay payment. He said preliminary work had been done on a federal emergency preservation grant and that he was prepared to personally put up the money if necessary. He indicated the historical society’s “final offer” to sell the home for $1 and have the association move it was not practical.
Mohr and association members Chris Buchanan, who lives across Center Street from the Myers home, testified they both went through the structure several times and felt it could be renovated for half or less than the $1 million estimate the historical society was given. Mohr based his opinion on the work he ded on his home at 513 Center St., while Buchanan pointed out he has an architecture degree and experience as a project manager for Engwiler Properties.
Also testifying was Kyle vonKamp, who said he offered to work with historical society to solicit volunteers to help “fix up” the property and to apply for historic preservation grants. VonKamp and City Councilwoman Ruth Detrow, who spearheaded the preservation ordinance, discussed how the value of individual homes in the district affect the value of others.
“Homes in the district make up a streetscape,” Detrow said. “Like removing a front tooth, there is a gaping hole when you remove a house.”
Wiest, hearing the case on assignment, gave each side seven days to submit written arguments on legal issues involving the local preservation law.