Group advocates preservation of history places

The building at 112-118 W. Main St. in downtown Troy is at the center of a demolition battle in Troy. The historic preservation group fighting to save it also is trying to expand the membership of a city commission that considers demolition requests to include an architect or engineer and a representative of a nonprofit group whose mission relates to historic preservation. Contributed photo

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The building at 112-118 W. Main St. in downtown Troy is at the center of a demolition battle in Troy. The historic preservation group fighting to save it also is trying to expand the membership of a city commission that considers demolition requests to include an architect or engineer and a representative of a nonprofit group whose mission relates to historic preservation. Contributed photo

Alliance was incorporated last year.

TROY – A young Troy historic preservation organization says it will continue its efforts to have the city Planning Commission membership expanded to include an architect or engineer and a representative of a nonprofit group interested in historic preservation.

The proposal advocated by the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance was put before the Planning Commission this summer as it reviewed proposed amendments from city staff for the city Historic Preservation Overlay District.

The commission earlier this month voted to recommend Troy City Council approve the amendment proposed by staff. It chose not to discuss or include the proposal to expand membership.

The Troy Historic Preservation Alliance was incorporated last year and lists its work as advocating for the preservation, restoration and repurposing of Troy’s historic places.

The group ‘s most visible work has been opposing the proposed demolition of the building at 112-118 W. Main St., referred to both as the IOOF building and the Tavern building. The building was damaged in the January 2020 tornado that hit downtown Troy. Parts of the structure date to the 1840s.

When the planning commission approved a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the structure last fall, the group was among those who appealed the decision first to the city Board of Zoning Appeals and the Miami County Common Pleas Court.

The appeal is pending.

The Planning Commission today has seven members. The preservation alliance proposed adding two members to the commission whose review includes structures in the downtown historic district. The organization collaborated with two downtown nonprofits – Troy Main Street and Troy Community Works – in studying other communities and coming up with the proposal, said Ben Sutherly, the preservation alliance’s president.

“Downtown Troy owes its beauty to the stewardship of many generations of property owners. Maintaining a downtown like ours is a delicate balance – one that can only be achieved when many stakeholders work together,” he told the commission at a public hearing.

The preservation alliance argued the added members were needed, pointing to the membership today that it noted includes no members who live or work in the district and none with professional background in architecture or history.

Before the Planning Commission vote, Mayor Robin Oda, who is a commission member, defended the commission and its work.

Oda said she didn’t support the request to change the commission makeup. “Troy continually receives kudos on our downtown,” she said, adding other communities look to Troy as an example and buildings downtown continually run close to 100 percent occupancy.

“Troy is a desirable place to be. … It is our desire and goal for that to remain,” she said.

The mayor said she thinks the “current discord” is based on the dispute over the 112-118 W. Main St., building. The city and the Troy Development Council worked with the building owner on possible options, none which worked out, Oda said.

The commission members are doing their job, she said, adding, “These old buildings are loved and cared for by property owners.”

The preservation alliance said it plans to take the request to expand planning commission membership from seven to nine members to Troy City Council.

“The city has no Planning Commission members who represent historic preservation interests or an architect. Ensuring that such interests have a seat at the table is important, and no valid argument to the contrary has been put forth,” the preservation alliance said in a statement.

“Troy’s City Council a few years ago expanded from seven to nine members, reflecting the community’s growth. The Planning Commission can expand from seven to nine members as well, helping to ensure a more inclusive dialogue around important matters affecting the downtown,” the alliance stated.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com.

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