Marysville News

Design board denies city's demolition permit

Group votes 4-2 against city's plan to demolish house for parking

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The city of Marysville won't be tearing down the house at 222 S. Main St. to create more Uptown parking just yet.

The plan went before the Design Review Board June 11, when members voted 4-2 against a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the house. The city is appealing the decision.

The city recently bought the 0.26-acre South Main Street property for $190,000 to incorporate more parking for the adjacent Partners Park, a $1.16 million project being built on the site of the former city hall, 125 E. Sixth St.

The new park will include a pavilion, gazebo, splash pad, garden and kiosk. It is an effort by the city to promote Uptown revitalization.

However, a debate about the house's historical significance has put a date with the wrecking ball on hold.

Spearheading the opposition to the demolition is Union County Historical Society President Bob Parrott. He filed a report with the Design Review Board before its June meeting, contending the house should not be torn down because of its historical significance.

The house, which most recently held offices for Marysville Grace Church, lies within the Marysville Historic District, for which Parrott helped draft the code.

An ordinance establishing the district and protecting historically and architecturally significant buildings was passed in 1991. It has been revised over the years, most recently in 2010.

Parrott argues the building is historically significant because of its age and the prominence of two of its owners. The house was built in 1850 by William Frank, who served as Marysville's mayor from 1849 to 1853. Also of note, the house was occupied by the Seller family from 1862 to 1914. George Seller operated a tannery; formed Co. E of the 86th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a Marysville unit that fought in the Civil War; and became a local banker in 1890.

Mayor John Gore said last week that when city officials first considered purchasing the property, he asked if historical value would be of concern.

"I pursued this with the vice president of the historical society and was given an absolute, quick 'no' that there was no significance or designation," Gore said.

"By the code, we followed every step. Once we made the application and there was an objection filed, we were required to secure some of type of historic expert," he said.

Law Director Tim Aslaner said the city hired Miriam Kahn of MBK Consulting in Columbus.

"She is on the approved list of consultants put out by the Ohio Historical Preservation Society. She's basically a preservationist and a historian. She's not about tearing houses down," Aslaner said last week.

Her report found the house did not warrant historic designation.

"The historic and architectural nature of the house at 222 S. Main St., Marysville, and its former 19th-century residents, are not significant," Kahn wrote. "The accomplishments of these respected citizens do not rise to levels of prominence on the local, state, or national level. The house has been extensively modified inside and out, reducing its historical and architectural significance.

"The structure is not visually identifiable as specific model or style and does not represent any historical architectural period," she wrote.

During the Design Review Board meeting, Parrott questioned Kahn's findings and said she was not qualified to determine who or what is important to Marysville because she isn't from the city.

Scot Draughn and Larry George voted in favor of the certificate of appropriateness, while Scott Failor, Pete Griffin, Michael Lasocco and Chairman Martin Pratt voted no. Tim Greenway was absent.

Now, the matter will be heard by the Board of Zoning Appeals at 7 p.m. July 14 in council chambers at City Hall, 209 S. Main St.

Aslaner said if the BZA denies the appeal, that decision can be appealed to the Union County Court of Common Pleas.

"Bottom line is, we don't think there's any historical significance to that house," Aslaner said.

Gore said the city may have to alter its long-term plans for adding parking at the house based on the appeal's outcome.

He said the city can build an additional 10 parking spaces on the property without demolishing the house. If demolition is eventually approved, another 21 to 23 spaces could be added.

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