Knocking Down a Historic Home

By: Meryl Conant
By: Meryl Conant

A historic home in the Valley might not be knocked down after all. Monday night Waynesboro's City Council decided to appeal a decision granting a local church permission to tear down the home located in a historic district.

The First Baptist Church wants to knock down a Chestnut Avenue home to expand its facilities.

The city zoning administrator denied that request -- saying the church did not meet all the requirements of the historic preservation ordinance -- like not making a bona fide effort to sell the property.

The Board of Zoning Appeals disagreed -- recently voting 4-0 to overturn that decision and let the church move forward with demolition.

Now the matter will go to court -- with the City Council requesting a judge to make sure the city is upholding the historic ordinance.

To avoid similar controversies about other historic homes in the future, Waynesboro's city planner Monday night presented a revised historic district ordinance.

The ordinance would clarify the criteria needed to knock down a home in the historic district -- such as specifically outlining what is a genuine effort to sell.

"A more clear ordinance would ensure that property owners are clear about their expectation and their rights under the ordinance and the public and city would be clear in terms of their responsibility and obligation," explained city planner Jim Shaw.

Waynesboro's Planning Commission crafted the revision after a number of meetings with the First Baptist Church, members of the Tree Streets Neighborhood Association and other interested parties.

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