Plainfield homeowner plays waiting game
By Madhu Mayer For The Herald-News August 7, 2012 8:18PM
Updated: September 9, 2012 6:17AM
PLAINFIELD — The owner of a downtown Plainfield house will have to wait for a visioning study to be completed before she can proceed with possible demolition of a property that was built before the Civil War.
The Plainfield Village Board Aug. 6 addressed whether to require the homeowner at 14927 S. Route 59 to do a community impact study or delay any demolition until completion of the Route 59 visioning study.
Village planner Michael Garrigan said Sandra Bennett wants to demolish the property that is south of Route 126 and north of Lockport Street. He said the property has been on sale for more than a year and Bennett has been unable to find a buyer. She wants to proceed with demolition to provide new opportunities for the sale of the property.
Garrigan said the property has been recommended as a future landmark on an individual basis and within a future historic district in addition to being identified as a contributing structure. The village’s historical urbanized core survey said it was built in 1845. The house retains its original limestone foundation and clapboard siding.
Recently, the Plainfield Village Board and the advisory historic preservation and plan commissions held a joint meeting on the future of Route 59 and potential consideration of a business transition overlay district. During the meeting, there was extensive support for further discussion about the future of the Route 59 corridor prior to granting any demolition request for property.
Garrigan told the village board Monday that staff has been researching how other communities handle business transition districts, a report he said should be completed in about a month.
The business transition district (BTD) along the Route 59 corridor encourages the adaptive reuse of the existing housing stock for light office or retail-oriented businesses, such as a home drapery furnishing store or a dental practice.
As defined in the village’s comprehensive plan, a business transition district is “intended to provide opportunities for preservation of residential structures and neighborhood character while permitting conversion to a limited range of commercial uses in properties located along arterial streets and/or within the downtown.”
Village officials on Monday decided to delay the demolition request, which means Bennett does not have to complete the community impact study until the report on Route 59 is complete. Plus, Garrigan on Monday said Civic Art Works is proceeding with the creation of a new website that will facilitate community input on the corridor’s future. The website is expected to be up later this month.
Trustee Paul Fay said it makes sense not to rush into anything until the board can review the findings.
“This is not a delay for the sake of delaying,’’ he said.
Village trustee Margie Bonuchi said she has concerns about demolishing a property with possible historical value.
“I would not support the demolition request at this time,’’ she concurred with Fay.
Village trustee Bill Lamb said he is not in favor of seeing another vacant lot in downtown Plainfield, especially in light of the fact that Bennett has no development plans for the property.