City: Historic District home can come down
After nearly a year of trying, the owner of a house in the city’s Historic District now has the green light to demolish the structure.
It will be replaced with a new home similar in style to other buildings in that block.
In December, Tim Connelly who owns a house at 717 Highmarket Street went before the city’s Architectural Review Board seeking permission to tear it down because of its deteriorated condition.
The ARB denied the request.
So, an appeal was filed in Circuit Court but Connelly agreed to withdraw the lawsuit if the ARB would hear the matter again.
The ARB agreed and in May — by a 3-2 vote — the ARB again denied the demolition request.
In July, Connelly refilled his appeal but the matter never went to court.
This week it was announced a mediated settlement had been reached between Connelly and the city.
City Council went into executive session to discuss the mediated agreement Thursday night then were expected to vote on the matter. The vote had not taken place by press time.
Georgetown Mayor Jack Scoville said under the agreement, Connelly now has permission to demolish the house.
He will agree to leave the lot vacant and incorporate it with the adjoining townhouse. If he does choose to rebuild, he must use architectural designs specified for the Historic District.
City Administrator Chris Carter said if a new house is built, it must be a single-family dwelling and must be approved by the ARB.
“The mediation involves a proposal made by staff,” Scoville said. Connelly’s attorney, Doug Thornton, said Connelly will apply for a demolition permit and will have the house down within 60 days.
When the new house is built, it will be similar in style to Prince George Church, across the street from the house.
At a meeting earlier this year, Connelly said he has spent $325,000 purchasing the house and property and it will cost at least $370,000 to repair the home and even then it may not meet city codes.
The ARB denied the demolition request saying the house contributed to the Historic District.
Scoville was asked if the settlement means the ARB admits the house does not contribute to the Historic District.
“The ARB is not admitting anything. It is just a resolution of a dispute,” Scoville said.
During a May meeting, Connelly’s presented five witnesses, including himself. The ARB was told by the witnesses — as well as city staff — the house needs to be demolished for various reasons, including safety concerns.
The city’s building inspector, Rick Martin, told the ARB he would not issue a building permit for repairs to be made to the house because its deteriorated condition made it dangerous for workers.
By Scott Harper
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