More zone changes for Canfield historic homes

CANFIELD — Council approved zone changes for two West Main Street properties, but debate continued about whether changes from residential to commercial threaten homes in the city’s historic district.

Dave Murdoch, who owns property at 67 W. Main, said he supports the zone changes for his neighbors at 17 W. Main and 27 W. Main.

He said he understands the desire to maximize a selling price for a property, and that it’s likely he’ll be the next one to ask for the change from R-2 residential to B-1 Village Green Commercial.

Still, he professed “a fondness for the old beams.”

“Is there anything that protects the old homes from being demolished?” he asked.

The answer, said zoning inspector Ted Frazzini, is no.

Council’s design-review committee could refuse a demolition, he said, but the property owner could go to the planning board of appeals. From there, the issue could go to court, and “we wouldn’t have a leg to stand on,” he said.

The historic district, which includes East Main and West Main streets, Lisbon Street, South Broad Street and a portion of North Broad Street, is designated by the city, but the houses there aren’t registered historic sites with the state, said council member Dan Frazzini.

To help keep new owners from tearing down the houses, city attorney Mark Fortunato said, council is modifying the zoning ordinance to make it easier to use the properties for businesses.

The property owners who received the zone changes Wednesday and another who was granted a change for 39 W. Main in December say they also don’t want to see the houses razed.

But the properties are surrounded by businesses, said Richard Ulrich, owner of 39 W. Main. He said that people won’t likely consider the properties for residences.

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