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Ormond Beach Observer Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019 2 months ago

Rules protecting historic homes have limitations

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John Anderson Cabin headed for demolition.
by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor

The historic John Anderson Cabin, also known as the Bracken Cabin, built before 1900 at 71 Orchard Lane, took one more step toward demolition Aug. 8 when the Planning Board recommended that the City Commission remove the structure from the Historic Landmarks list. The City Commission will vote in two readings, tentatively set for Sept. 10 and 24. Removal from the list will allow the owner to move forward with demolition.

City staff reported to the Historical Landmarks Preservation Board that the deterioration of the cabin occurred over many years and it is now beyond repair. The current owner, Shed Roberson, told the board he bought the cabin in 2017 with the intent to restore it, but it was too far gone. The board then recommended removal from the list.

The property is for sale and a prospective buyer plans to build a new house, it was reported at the Preservation Board meeting. 

The previous owner, J. Walker Fischer, told the Observer that he also tried to maintain it. He said the deteriorated section is the newer, added-on part, and the historical section of the house could be saved, in his opinion.

Fischer said he tried to maintain the home, but after flooding from a tropical storm and hurricanes, the needed repairs got too far ahead of him. Also, there was termite damage that he should have had professionally treated, he said.

 

THE LANDMARKS LIST

 

Having a private home on the Historic Landmarks list is voluntary. Removal from the list is also voluntary, but requires approval by the City Commission.

In 1986, the city took action to try to protect historic homes by creating the Historic Landmarks list and asked owners if they would like to participate. The John Anderson Cabin was placed on the original list with 29 other properties. The owner who placed the house on the list later sold the house to a son, Fischer.

Planning Board members agreed with the findings of the Planning and Building Department and the Historic Preservation Board that the John Anderson Cabin is beyond repair.

“If there was anything to salvage, we wouldn’t be sitting here,” said Planning Board member Mike Scudiero. “I don’t think we have a practical choice.”

 

A GIFT TO PRESERVE             

 

Bonda Garrison, president of the Ormond Beach Historical Society, encourages maintenance of historic houses.

“Historic homes are a treasure,” she said. “They add to the character of the community and show we have a history.”

Dr. Philip Shapiro, chairman of the Historic Landmark Preservation Board, called historic homes a “gift that should be protected.”

He said sometimes the designation can make a property more valuable, but it depends on the market at the time. But, he said, the owner has something unique that adds an identity to the community.

To be on the list, a house must have architectural, historic or cultural value.

A historic home that Shapiro called “magnificent” was the Irons House at 393 John Anderson Drive. It was damaged by hurricanes and taken off the historic list in 2013 before being demolished.

 

DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT

 

The city has a demolition by neglect ordinance that applies to homes on the Historic Landmarks list and those homes identified as contributing properties in the Lincoln Avenue Overlay District. The list of contributing properties can be found in the city’s Land Development Code in the Historic Districts and Landmarks Section.

For demolition by neglect to be cited, there must be a complaint and there was no complaint about the John Anderson Cabin, according to staff in the Planning and Building Department.

The demolition by neglect ordinance has never been utilized.

The interior of the John Anderson Cabin shows severe damage. Courtesy photo

 

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