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Council approves resolution to support city's first proposed local historic district

Council approves resolution to support city's first proposed local historic district

March 20th, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in News

The Jefferson City Council approved a resolution Monday directing Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin to sign a local historic district nomination application for the School Street area, at the same time voting to demolish a building in the proposed district area.

After holding a closed session, the council unanimously approved a resolution, directing Tergin to sign the application as the property owner of 408 Lafayette St. With this signature, the application will achieve the 75 percent threshold city requirement for a local historic district application.

Later that night, the council voted to proceed with demolishing 408 Lafayette St., with Tergin being the tie-breaking vote. Council members Rick Prather, Rick Mihalevich, Laura Ward, Ken Hussey and Carlos Graham voted against demolishing the building while council members David Kemna, Erin Wiseman, Ron Fitzwater, Larry Henry and Mark Schreiber voted in favor.

City staff planned to demolish 408 Lafayette St. to avoid paying back more than $78,000 in federal funds the city had invested in rehabilitating the property. At the insistence of residents, the City Council approved a demolition moratorium for the School, East McCarty and Lafayette streets area in March since residents were worried the city would turn the area into green space because it is in a 100-year floodplain and a 2006 city plan recommends it be turned into a green space.

The demolition moratorium ended in November when the council then voted to try to sell 408 Lafayette St. within 90 days of posting the property. The deadline for that sale ended last week.

Ward 4 Councilman Fitzwater, who made the motion to demolish 408 Lafayette St., said the city did receive a bid on the property but it did not meet the city's guidelines as it contained contingencies. On the city's website, it stated those submitting bids for the property could not have contingencies.

"We just have not gotten a legitimate offer on the building and we've got to put trust in staff because they say it's a dangerous piece of property," he said. "I just feel it was time for the council to go on the record and either support the demolition or stop talking about it. I just felt it was time to bring the issue to a head and get a vote on it."

Ward 2 Councilman Mihalevich made a motion to push off the demolition vote until the next council meeting to hear more public input, but it was voted down 6-4. Wiseman, Fitzwater, Graham, Henry, Kemna and Schreiber voted against the motion.

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To demolish a building, it must go to the Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission for consideration and city staff said there would be a public hearing regarding the building.

Mihalevich said if the commission denied the demolition permit for 408 Lafayette St. the council can overturn the decision under city code, so it appeared the council was already saying it would demolish the building.

The Historic Preservation Commission would also review and hold a public hearing for the local historic district application proposed for the area. The application includes 28 parcels, including properties in the 600 block of East McCarty Street, all of School Street, the 400 block of Lafayette Street, three houses on the east side of Lafayette Street and 500 Lafayette St.

Residents Jenny Smith and Jane Beetem submitted the original application in late January but city staff sent the local historic district application back last month since it was one signature short of meeting the threshold of 75 percent notarized signatures from property owners. The city also requested clarification of deed holders on six parcels.

Last week, Smith requested the city sign the application for at least one property because without the city's signature, residents would not meet the 75-percent threshold.

With the city's signature for 408 Lafayette St., Beetem said they plan to resubmit the application. However, she added it was confusing that the council supported the local historic district but still plans to proceed with demolishing the Lafayette Street property.

"If they tear it down, it'll just be a vacant lot and it won't really benefit from the local historic district," she said.

Since the council approved a resolution to support the proposed local historic district but also demolish a building within that same area, Ward 3 Councilman Hussey he was worried the council's intentions would be confusing to the commission since it would hear both the demolition application for 408 Lafayette St. and the local historic district application.

"There's potential that the property could be demolished but as a council, we're also saying we're supporting the efforts to make this area a local historic district as well, both of which those votes end up in the lap of the Historic Preservation Commission, who may be confused by the intent of this council and which direction we're going," he said. "A vote to demolish does not take away from the council's intent or the vote we took to declare (we support) this area (as) a local historic district but from an outside observer, I think it'll send a very mixed message."

In December, the Parks and Recreation Commission voted to demolish 602 and 606 E. McCarty St. to add to the nearby Greenway trail.

In other action Monday:

City staff introduced a bill that would modify three of the six 15-minute parking spaces across the street from the U.S. Postal Service, at 131 W. High St., to 90-minute parking. The three westerly parking spaces on the north side of the street would remain 15-minute parking.

The city's Transportation and Traffic Commission approved the change in February and held its position when it revisited the topic earlier this month.

On Monday, the council suspended the rules to unanimously approve a bill proposing a $704,000 supplemental appropriation from the unassigned general fund balance and a more than $1.4 million supplemental appropriation from the Sales Tax G contingency funding.

Last week during a City Council work session, the council decided to use the unassigned general fund balance to pay for a dump truck, the city's worker compensation shortfall and gap financing for condemned properties in the East Capitol Avenue urban renewal zone. This leaves a remaining estimated fund balance of $186,277 for the rest of the fiscal year.

The council also will utilize the Sales Tax G "Contingency/Economic Development" fund to pay for the Fire Station No. 2 financial shortfall and downtown streetscape repair and electrical project, leaving approximately $808,898 in that line item.

To get started on the downtown streetscape project, the council suspended the rules and approved an almost $1.2 million contract with Sam Gaines Construction Inc. to repair the sidewalks, streets and crosswalks in portions along East High Street between Adams and Washington streets and in the 200 block of Madison Street. It will also provide electricity in stage segment area at the intersection of East High and Madison streets, the 200 block of High Street, the 100 block of High Street.

The City Council also heard a bill Monday that would make abandoned building property owners and rental property landlords provide more contact information on their registration forms, including contact information for individuals if the property is owned by a trust, partnership, corporation or limited liability company.

Rental property landlords would also have to renew their registration annually in January, under the proposed amendments. The proposed amendments also include a penalty fee of $25 per day if a rental property landlord fails to register or renew his or her registration.

For abandoned building property owners, city staff proposed removing the one-time $150 administration registration fee. The also recommended changing the $40 monthly fee to a semi-annual fee of $200.