by Ashley Heeney
Tallmadge -- Those driving or walking through Tallmadge may soon be slowing down to notice better preserved century structures.
Ordinances passed by Council May 24 aim to preserve the many century-old and century-like structures in Tallmadge.
Mayor Christopher Grimm said he thinks "if the program is run right, century structures will be saved."
The program he speaks of involves evaluating structures and putting them on a "design district list" to be protected.
Once added to the list, structure owners will consider it a "list of honor," Grimm and Council president Jack Sarver previously stated.
If not, structure owners who do not want to be on the list must petition the Heritage Commission (formerly the Appearance Commission), and then Council for removal.
An incentive in belonging to the program is that owners of those structures may apply to the Heritage Preservation Grant Program for $1,000 every five years, to be used for paint and related supplies.
"It's a good time to start the process, [especially] because after 1907, there is a two-year break in the building date of homes," said Grimm at Council's May 21 public hearing, in response to some Councilmembers' concerns with having to evaluate so many homes.
Service Director David Kline said the city has staff who can do inspections, but "not historic," so it's being looked into to hire a historic inspector.
Amy-Goodson Beal, representing the Chamber of Commerce board of trustees, said she was concerned that the process to have one's structure removed from the list was "unclear," and that the revised ordinance may not be in sync with with the design district guidebook.
Grimm said the design district guidebook is meant to be a living document.
Law Director Penny Taylor told Council May 24 that if there exists a conflict between the guidebook and zoning laws, zoning ultimately rules. "The design book is to be amended, as time permits," she said.
"It's not the [longtime family homes] in Tallmadge we're worried about, it's people like Mr. [Jim] Stiffler [owner of two historic structures on Southwest Avenue] who wants to tear them down."
Councilmember Dennis Thompson's clapped his hands to the idea of restricting the historic district boundaries to the area around the Circle. Thompson was the only member to vote against the revised design district ordinance May 24.
"Then tear the damn city down and let's go back to being like Akron," Grimm said in response. "[Council] can also eliminate the Appearance [now Heritage] Commission if you want."
"The flavor and thrust of Council was knocking down homes," said At-large Council member Robert Maguire, "that's the dilemma we've got -- for what Council did before."
At-large member Jerry Feeman said a structure being put on the list, could "possibly enhance" its [real estate] selling power.