Two property owners near Wheeling's Centre Market told the city's Historic Landmarks Commission Thursday they would like to see buildings around the historic shopping district be subject to design review guidelines similar to those governing a stretch of homes on Chapline Street in Center Wheeling.
Susan Shoemaker, owner of Susan's Antiques, and Elizabeth Vdovjak, owner of Centre Market Bakery, asked commissioners what they needed to do to begin the process which, if completed, would require property owners in a designated area to obtain a "certificate of appropriateness" from the commission before making any alterations to their buildings' exteriors.
Shoemaker said there are some buildings near the market houses that have become dilapidated, and if those structures ever are torn down, she doesn't want to see anything built in their place that would disrupt the area's historic ambience.
Photo by Ian Hicks
During a Thursday meeting, Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commissioner C.J. Kaiser explains the process for establishing historic design review guidelines.
"I just want my neighbor to fix up her building. ... I don't want it to burn down and someone put up a mobile home there," she said.
Vdovjak's business is located in the city-owned Upper Market House, but she also owns property on Market Street where she lives - and to where she eventually hopes to move her bakery. She said an upper floor window on a nearby building recently was broken, and instead of replacing it, "the owner just slapped a piece of plywood in there."
Commissioner C.J. Kaiser said adopting design review guidelines requires a majority vote of the property owners in the affected area.
He suggested Shoemaker and Vdovjak begin researching surrounding properties and contacting owners to gauge the level of interest, then meet with each other to decide exactly what restrictions they want.
Though the Chapline Street Row design guidelines - which govern eight Victorian-style homes from 2301-2323 Chapline St. - are tailored specifically to that area, Kaiser said they could serve as a starting point.
"I think there are a significant amount of property owners there ... who would be receptive to having design review. ... We'll help you any way we can," Kaiser said.
Assistant Director of Planning and Economic Development Tom Connelly said the original Centre Market Historic District included both sides of Market Street between 20th and 23rd streets, including the two city-owned Centre Market structures.
It first was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, and in 1987 was expanded to include adjacent lanes and alleys and extend to 24th Street, encompassing about 180 structures.
Kaiser said, however, the design review district could be restricted to a smaller area if getting a majority of property owners in the district to agree proves too difficult.
City Council approved the design review guidelines for Chapline Street Row in January 2011, after more than a year of debate. One resident who opposed the guidelines, Danielle Whorton, said at the time Nationwide dropped her homeowner's insurance policy because of the new rules, though she eventually found a company that would insure her. Eventually, however, she put her property up for sale.
Without a quorum present, no official action was taken during Thursday's meeting. Commissioners Rebecca Swords, Pat Cassidy, Gregory Smith and Councilman David Miller were absent.