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Residents Appeal Wells Sherman House Decision by Planning Commission

Common please court filing alleges commission decision "unconstitutional"

A group of Kent residents trying to preserve a small patch of greenspace are asking a Portage County judge to overturn a ruling by the Kent Planning Commission allowing the relocation of the historic Kent Wells Sherman House.

The group titled "Save the Standing Rock Garden," comprised of supporters of the Standing Rock Cultural Arts, filed an appeal in Portage County Common Pleas court this month to the September planning commission ruling that approved a site plan for the historic house at 247 N. Water St.

The appeal seeks to overturn the commission's approval of the site plan, which permits relocation of the house to the lot that has been used by the arts group for the past 20 years.

Lisa Regula Meyer, lead organizer of the Save the Standing Rock Garden, said the goal of filing the appeal is the same goal the group has over the past six months or more — find another location for the house.

"This is not a popular place to put it," she said. "They continue insisting it’s the only place it can go."

The non-profit organization Kent Wells Sherman House Inc. is managing the relocation of the house and will operate it once it opens. The group has submitted plans to the city to obtain the necessary permits to relocate the house, such as a building permit for the foundation, and the plans are under review. No permits have been issued yet.

Roger Thurman, vice president of the Kent Wells Sherman House Inc. board, declined to comment on the appeal because he had not yet seen it.

Thurman said KWSH bought the parcel at 247 N. Water St. Thursday and the sale was scheduled to close Friday.

"We are going ahead with our procedure as best we can," he said.

Thurman said the house could be set on the lot by mid November if all the necessary permits are obtained.

The appeal, filed Oct. 7 by Kent attorney John Plough, alleges that the city of Kent violated some aspects of the Ohio Sunshine Law with regards to a Kent Architectural Review Board meeting about the house that Regula-Meyer said was not properly advertised to the public.

"At the very least we hope to point out that the process that the city of Kent has been engaging in has not been up to par," she said.

Kent Law Director Jim Silver said because the appeal doesn't include a request for an injunction to stop the ongoing permitting process the KWSH group can move forward with relocating the house at their own risk.

The potential risk is the fact that if a judge overturned the planning commission's decision and the house is already set on the lot, the KWSH group could be forced to relocate it.

Silver declined further comment because the case is pending.

MORE COVERAGE:

  • Wells-Sherman House Site Plan Approved by Planning Commission
  • VIDEO: Wells-Sherman House Moved to Stave Off Demolition
  • UPDATE: Former Hillel Site Unlikely Location for Wells-Sherman House
Resident of Kent October 22, 2012 at 01:14 PM
I for one am glad that this conflict is even happening, because it's what the grass-roots history of Kent Ohio is about entirely- people fighting for what they believe to be right! Now, if only more people would join in and protest against the larger things that are hurting and crowding and trying to take away our own "personal green space".
Teresa K. October 22, 2012 at 01:29 PM
This is getting interesting. Just when I thought it was a done deal.... I applaud the "Save the Standing Rock Garden" group for their efforts. While I am not passionate about where the house ends up, I think it will look totally out of place in that spot.
Traci Monroe October 22, 2012 at 03:23 PM
It's not their "own personal green space", it is owned by a private individual.
Misty Jones October 22, 2012 at 06:20 PM
It's their own personal green taxpayer $ and government at work though.
David Badagnani October 23, 2012 at 04:31 AM
It is getting even more interesting: apparently on Saturday, October 19, 2012 Roger Thurman has begun patrolling the 247 North Water Street parcel, angrily shouting at and threatening anyone he sees in the garden, accusing them of trespassing on private land. As far as I know the antique house has not yet been moved there, and, in fact, no construction activity is going on currently, but Thurman seems not to have wanted to waste any time shutting down any further enjoyment of the garden in its natural state, though it may be months before the clearing of the land, cutting down of trees, etc. begins. This turn of events seems particularly amazing to me in light of Thurman's testimony at the Kent Planning Commission, which included emphatic statements that his organization sincerely wished to prove they could be a friendly and good neighbor to the arts community.
David Badagnani October 23, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Common *please => common pleas

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