Perrysburg City Council has voted to effectively prevent a man who says his house is unsafe and impossible to renovate from demolishing the building he owns in the city’s historic district.
During a public hearing Tuesday, council voted 4-2 not to reverse the decision by the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission to deny the owner of the house — located at 120 W. Second St. — the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness needed for the requested demolition. Councilman Tim McCarthy recused himself and was absent at the hearing.
Council members James Matuszak and Haraz Ghanbari voted to reverse the commission’s decision, each alleging procedural errors by the commission and insufficient explanation of its decision.
Judy Justus, the commission’s vice president, said the house is at least 120 year old, “if not much older.”
Council member Deborah Born said if the home were to come down, it would negatively affect the entire historic district.
City Councilman Deborah Born opposes the demolition of the home at 120 W. Second St. in Perrysburg’s Historic District.
Ms. Born did not know exactly how old the building was, but she said it was originally owned by a dentist who operated his practice out of the building at the same time his family lived there. The current owner, Andy Wilhelms, purchased the property in 2014 and hasn’t done anything with it, she said.
Per city code, neglect is not a legal reason to demolish an historic structure, she said.
Plus, she said, while the house was grandfathered in as a residential structure per the zoning code, if it came down, the property would be zoned for commercial purposes. Mr. Wilhelms has a plan for the property should the building be allowed to be demolished, but Ms. Born said there was no legal way to make him follow through with it.
“The residents of Perrysburg don’t want this coming down,” she said. “Just because [Mr. Wilhelms has] owned it for four years doesn’t mean he can tear it down.”
But Mr. Wilhelms said he hasn’t neglected the building since he purchased the property, and, according to a structural engineer’s report, it needs to be torn down. He can’t do anything with the building, he said, because renovating it is unsafe.
“This house had been vacant for a number of years before we purchased it,” he said.
After he purchased the building, he said, his wife became pregnant, and they held off on any repairs for a couple of years to focus on their family. In 2017, he met with the historic landmarks commission to discuss the building. In February, 2018, members of the commission told him to have a structural engineer assess the building, and in April, 2018, Mr. Wilhelms received the engineer’s report saying the building had to come down.
Still, he said, the commission rejected his request to demolish the house.
“They want to preserve it because it’s old,” he said.
So, Mr. Wilhelms appealed to the city council.
“If we could refurbish it, we would have,” Mr. Wilhelms said.
Ms. Born said she has not seen a structural engineer’s report regarding the house.
“It would be my concern, if this were to happen, it would really affect the historic district,” she said.
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