Columbia Historic Commission to Save Valued Homes
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Historic Preservation Commission met Tuesday night to discuss the 2011 Demolition Annual Report. The report serves as a reminder that any demolition permit will follow through within ten business days if the building in question isn't in a historic district or wasn't previously considered a local historical landmark.
"We've identified the public works director, community development director, the city manager or even the city council currently doesn't have the authority to deny the application for the demolition permit," says HPC Chair Brian Treece.
The report found that thirty-two structures were demolished last year, approximately thirty percent fewer than the year before. Twenty-seven of the thirty-two structures were more than fifty years old. The majority of the demolished homes were single-family homes.
The Annie Fisher House at 2911 Old Highway 63 South was one prominent demolition request the Historic Preservation Committee tried to fight. The home belonged to a well-known African-American business woman who ran it as a restaurant in the early twentieth century and it was named a Most Notable Historic Property in 2009. Reaching out to the property owners and trying to discuss an alternative option had no effect, and the home was demolished in the fall of 2011.
Currently, if a demolition permit is requested for a historic property, the HPC can place a 10 day hold on the demolition to allow time to negoitate with the owner. The HPC hopes to extend the holding period to 30 days to go through a period of consideration and evaluation if the home has any historic value before it is destroyed. It would also give the HPC or the city council an opportunity to apply for a zoning change.
"Ideally there should be a process in place before there is a demolition pending so that there's fair notice to property owners and developers and neighborhoods that what we are proposing in the demolition actually meets the community's expectations," says Treece.
The commission hopes to put the proposed change up to the city council next month.