Ordinance Changed at Old Jail
The old Howard County Jail came close to facing the wrecking ball. But Californian Gary Kaplan bought the building to save it.
"I'm very happy that he did buy it or the county probably would have had to tear it down at a very expensive cost to the county," said Howard County resident Charlie Polson.
Kaplan wants to use the historic jail as a getaway from his home in California. But a city ordinance prohibits living on the first floor of a historic building in downtown.So the city council voted a week ago to allow Kaplan or anyone to apply for a conditional use permit downtown. Council members say changing the rules is better than the alternative.
"The community has been working for many years on revitalizing the downtown, the Main Street program. And to destroy a historic building in that area would be counter-productive to what we've been doing," Mayor Pro-Temp Pam Huttsell said.
Residents say they're happy with the council's decision. Kaplan has already started renovation work on the jail. But he must still appear before the board of adjustments to get his permit. Kaplan is working with the historic preservation society to ensure his renovations are historically accurate.