A court ruling will allow the Ashland County Historical Society to demolition the A.N. Myers house on Center Street.
Myers house coming down
Tuesday March 13, 2007
Judge denies preliminary injunction barring demolition of historic home
By Megan Edwards
T-G Staff Writer
Historical Association does not plan to appeal
The walls of the A.N. Myers home soon will come tumbling down. The aluminum siding already was off Monday.
Acting Wayne County Judge Mark Wiest denied a preliminary injunction Friday which barred the Ashland County Historical Society from tearing down the historic home at 408 Center St. The judge also dissolved a temporary restraining order against the society, which was granted in December when a portion of the aluminum siding was removed from the home.
According to Ron Forsthoefel, attorney for the society, demolition of the home will take place "relatively soon," which will "ultimately make the litigation moot," he said.
"We think the decision is consistent with the applicable law," Forsthoefel said. "It is consistent with what was asserted in the litigation."
The demolition permit, which was issued Oct. 3, 2006, by the city of Ashland, is valid for six months, according to Forsthoefel.
"It is our position that the life of the permit didn't continue to run while the restraining order was in place," he said. "But rather than to change it, they're going to get things done in the original time frame."
On Monday, workers continued tearing off siding from the home. Forsthoefel couldn't comment on the work being done Monday, only on the litigation, he said.
After workers began tearing off aluminum siding on the home in December 2006, the society was served a temporary restraining order. The order instructed the society not to further damage, materially alter or destroy the home. The association had worried the move was the society's beginning to the demolition process. But Forsthoefel, at the time, said the siding had to come down whether the home would be demolished or renovated.
Attempts to reach Phil Leibolt, president of the society's board of trustees, were unsuccessful Monday.
Friday's decision drew the nearly yearlong battle between the association and the society to a close.
"We're disappointed," said Rodney Mohr, president of the Center Street Historical District Association. "We feel we've done all that we could to try to at least have a dialogue with the historical society. But that wasn't going to happen, unfortunately."
The association will not pursue the issue further.
"We could appeal it, but we're not going to," he said. "It doesn't make any sense to do that. It's a done deal as far as we're concerned."
In July 2006, the society applied to the city's Historic Preservation Board for demolition of the house as opposed to renovating it at more than $1 million. The board, which was created by City Council last year, denied the application.
A group of Center Street residents then offered to purchase the Myers home for $85,000 in October to avoid its demolition. The bid amount was based on an estimate compiled by a certified appraiser. In response to the bid, the society offered to sell the home to the association for $1, with the condition it be moved.
The association and a group of six Center Street residents filed a complaint against the society and the city of Ashland in December 2006, asking for a demolition permit issued in October by the city to be declared illegal.
The home dates to 1892, when a member of a well-known Ashland family built the structure. More than a century later, the society purchased the home in 1998 for $186,000 from a doctor who continued to occupy it under a lease until the end of 2005.
The intentions of the association, Mohr said, were to save the home and the historic atmosphere of Center Street. However, he said, the association had hoped for more as well.
"We had hoped they would consider doing a real feasibility study, get an architect involved and look at code issues," Mohr said. "It was a significant concern. You really can't get meaningful quotes unless you get some plans. At this point, as far as I know, they don't have any plans other than putting grass down at the moment. That part of it was disappointing. That they weren't willing to go through that process."
Tearing down the historic home means more than just tearing down the structure, Mohr said.
"It's just one more house that's no longer part of the historic district," he said. "You can't replace them. You can build new buildings but they aren't antique."
Though the outcome isn't what the association wanted, Mohr said he wishes the society the best and is happy with those who helped in communication between the two organizations. He thanked Leibolt and Bill Harvey of the society for being "willing to have any conversation with us."
"I hope their future plans are successful," he said. "There are some positives that will come out of this, I'm sure. I don't know what that is right now, but we probably know each other better than we did when we started this. We're tighter as a neighborhood, and hopefully we'll convince other people to save their treasures."
Attempts to reach the association's attorney, John Good, were unsuccessful Monday.