Friday, November 30, 2001

Going, going, gone?

Old home may soon disappear from Senoia


A potential battle is brewing in Senoia over the fate of an old home in the city's historic district.

On the one side is owner Chuck Smith, who wants permission to demolish the home at 49 Broad St. and sell the property to neighboring BellSouth for an expansion of its facility.

On the other side is the city's history buffs, who are questioning whether the house could possibly be moved to another site and saved.

Smith told the City Council that he had bought the home three years ago and decided to renovate it. But after starting the project, he quickly realized the damage was too extensive for him to handle and decided to put the home on the market.

For two years, he has been looking for a buyer and seems to have found one in BellSouth, which has a facility next to his home.

BellSouth wants to expand its facility because of the growth in the region, and also because the company eventually may have to offer competing phone companies space in the facility, said a BellSouth spokesman.

Because the structure is in the city's historic overlay district, any change must be approved by the City Council.

Mayor Joan Trammell said she would abstain from any vote on the issue, because she lives only a block away from the property.

Councilman Bill Wood, who works for Bell South and also said he would abstain from voting, said the issue was whether the home could be fixed for a reasonable cost or possibly moved.

The most vocal opponent of a quick vote on demolition came from the audience. Joanne Utt, who used to head the city's historic society, wanted to know if every effort had been made to try and find another location to move the house.

"We're about trying to save history, and if you let that home be demolished, you're setting a precedent," she said.

Smith said he did not believe the house was in any shape to move and submitted a inspection report to the City Council that outlined the damages.

The council decided to table Smith's request for demolition, until it had more time to study the project.

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