Plan to Save Wells-Sherman House Pitched to Planning Commission

Request for site plan approval set for June 19 meeting

The architect helping to organize of the historic Kent Wells-Sherman House pitched the proposal to the Kent Planning Commission Tuesday.

Rick Hawksley showed site plans for the property on North Water Street, between and , where the Friends of the Kent Wells-Sherman House and TransPortage want to move the house to.

The pre Civil War greek revival, standing at 250 E. Erie St., is in the path of Kent State University's Esplanade extension and must be moved this summer for construction.

Hawksley said he made the courtesy presentation Tuesday to find out if the commission had any serious reservations about the project or the proposed site plan.

Commission member John Gargan said he was concerned about losing the character of the empty lot, which now is used by Standing Rock for various public uses.

"I just don’t like losing some unique greenspace," Gargan said. "It does have some character … that’s the biggest problem I would have with this.

Jim Vandenboom, a local artist, also was worried about the potential loss for Standing Rock if the house is relocated there.

"I agree with the project, but as far as the city putting any money towards moving it to an inappropriate location, and I feel this is, I would be against it," Vandenboom said. "That location has been a big part of Standing Rock Cultural Arts. They’ve fixed it up. They’ve done a lot of work. It’s a value to the community."

Hawksley said he's talked with SRCA Director Jeff Ingram and believes they could work out a partnership if the house is moved there. He said the first floor of the house would be a semi-public space available for group meetings, and much of the rear of the property would remain open for use.

"We are very sympathetic to that," Hawksley said.

He said the group working to save the house considered about a dozen different locations throughout the city, but for a number of reasons this site proved the most feasible.

"The main thing it comes down to is we’re running out of time," Hawksley said. "The sites that are preferable are not feasible. Finding a use and a site and the money has been an amazing journey. I think we’ve settled on something that’s practical and we can make work."

The owner of the property's other neighboring building where Scribbles stands, Steve Balazs, said his main concern is that the house would be set back from North Water Street far enough to avoid blocking the view of Edwin George's mural on the north side of his building.

"My only concern is being able to see that," Balazs said. "I think the (proposed setback) will make that suffice."

The Kent Board of Zoning Appeals will consider a setback variance for the house to stand 10 feet back from sidewalk on June 18. The planning commission will vote on the site plan June 19.

In the meantime, Hawksley said they may have to move the house before then to avoid delaying Kent State's construction.

"They want it out of the way sooner rather than later, so we’re trying to comply with that," he said.

William B Budner ESQ. June 07, 2012 at 03:49 AM
William B Budner ESQ. June 07, 2012 at 04:05 AM
you fail to recognize satire. i'll write that down to remember it.
Tina Puckett June 07, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Let's just agree to disagree, shall we?
Balertwine July 10, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I see two really bad things in the list of possible sites. First, our public servants, the administrators at KSU, our taxpayer-supported university, wants that historic house gone. Those same public servants said they don't want the house included in the project . Now the last time I checked, university administrators are on our payroll working for us at our directive. So this is what the Mayor does: calls whatever administrator it is at KSU, and tells him this house will not be torn down. It must be relocated. Simple as that. The idea that we need to organize into little private organizations to save historic structures from the unstoppable bulldozers of our government is ridiculous. The name of the place is Kent, Ohio, not Pyongyang, North Korea. The mayor does what we want him to. The KSU administrators do what we want them to. Otherwise, they are in trouble, not us. They serve us. OK? So change the mindset here. Now, the second bad thing I saw on the list of possible sites was the statement "John Brown Tannery Park: disinterest by Kent Parks and Recreation". Please reference my above factual observation that this is not North Korea, and take a guess where I think the administrators of the Kent Parks and Recreation can stick their disinterest. We are calling the Mayor again. Further, deadlines don't scare me. Bulldozers must stay idle until the house is relocated where everyone likes it, and if our public servants don't like it, they can quit.


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