Planners split on historic Square district

Xavier Smith • Mar 27, 2018 at 7:15 PM

The Lebanon Planning Commission split its vote Tuesday on a recommendation to the Lebanon City Council regarding the Lebanon Square Historic Preservation District overlay.

The Lebanon Historic Preservation Commission approved the zoning overlay earlier this year for properties on the Lebanon Square and a few surrounding properties.

Tracey Parks, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission, said the idea of the overlay is to not require any of owners of property to do anything to their property, but to control potential future changes to it.

Parks said the goal of the historic zoning overlay is to preserve the historic integrity of the area. The commission worked for many months to decide all facets of the overlay, which aims to keep the square historically accurate while letting building owners use materials that maintain quality over time. The overlay only makes standards for the exterior look of the building, allowing business owners full reign over the interior design. 

Property owners that rest just outside of the square urged commissioners to reconsider the boundaries of the overlay district to exclude their properties.

“We feel there’s nothing historic about our properties,” Mark Lee said.

Commission chairman David Taylor said he felt the properties should remain in the district, to which commissioner Chad Williams disagreed.

“My opinion is the outside of the square doesn’t look like the inside of the square. So, I don’t see a point in making the outside of the square look like the inside if it’s rebuilt,” Williams said.

“There are some buildings on the outside of the square, particularly on the northeast side that are still in tact like are still very historically significant,” commissioner Kathy Adams said.

“To me, there’s no question the interior of the square seems to be important to preserve such that value is added. I don’t know enough to know if we are, indeed, adding value by forcing people to be part of this that are facing out of the square,” Commissioner Mack McCluskey said.

Lebanon Planning Director Paul Corder said if the Lebanon City Council approved the current district, the landowners would need to make a rezoning request to be removed from the district and it’s standards.

The commission voted, 5-2, to send the district overlay zoning request to the council with a positive recommendation. The first reading and public hearing is set for April 17.

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