MORRISON – Three property owners want out of Morrison’s historic district.
The city has given property owners until Dec. 31 to apply to opt out of the city’s controversial district.
As recently as 2 weeks ago, no one had submitted an application.
The district includes the downtown, areas along the Lincoln Highway and the Hill residential neighborhood.
The Masons are asking that their new building at 227 and 229 E. Main St. be taken out of the district.
The group finished its two-story building last September after years of dealing with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
“We have a new building. It’s really improved the block,” said John Miller, secretary of the Masons’ Dunlap Lodge 321. “We just don’t feel it’s necessary to be part of the historic district.”
Any opt-out requests go to the preservation commission, which makes recommendations. The City Council has the final say.
The commission will consider the three property owners’ requests at a meeting today.
Dealing with the preservation commission, Miller said, delayed the building of the new lodge. During that time, the cost of materials rose, he said.
“We were figuring it would be $140,000 to $150,000. We spent $170,000,” he said.
Also wanting out of the historic district are Bob Shambaugh for 409 E. Wall St. and Gary Milnes for 304 W. Lincolnway.
Shambaugh’s property is not included in the current historic district map, which is on the city’s website. But he said the city included scattered outlying properties years ago. He said officials convinced him to join the district in the 1990s. But he quickly soured on it.
“They didn’t do it correctly – period,” he said. “That’s what my complaint has been the whole time. It’s an illegal thing.”
For instance, he said, the city has no record of the required petition with the signatures of 24 percent of the landowners, which is needed to form a district.
The district’s supporters say it helps improve the value of properties by making sure owners preserve their buildings.
Milnes didn’t return calls for comment.
Bob Vaughn, a new member of the preservation commission, said he would like to see 100 percent participation in the district, but landowners have a “perfect right” to opt out.
Vaughn said he wasn’t sure why Shambaugh was seeking to get out of the historic district because it didn’t include Wall Street, although he said scattered properties around town have historic designations.
He said he and other members would figure out Shambaugh’s issue at the meeting.