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McHenry residents raise concerns about demolition project

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 4:55 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 9:32 a.m. CDT

McHENRY – The proposed demolition of a house in the Country Club subdivision has some residents wondering if and how the city needs to consider the character of neighborhoods in approving projects.

The Landmark Commission approved the demolition in a 6-2 vote Tuesday evening despite concerns over whether the plans for the property fit the character of the neighborhood, Chairman Pat Wirtz said.

The property owners plan to expand the neighboring house, he said. It is currently 2,320 square feet, and they want to add 8,359 square feet.

“Our job as a Landmark Commission isn’t to decide what goes in, and it was not a historic home, so six of us voted to tear it down,” Wirtz said.

The approval means it doesn’t need to go before the City Council, Deputy City Administrator Doug Martin said.

The permit process for both the demolition and subsequent expansion is ongoing, and because the project does not require a zoning change, it does not need council approval, he said. The decision comes just months after the Landmark Commission started a historic neighborhoods initiative.

Proposed by Nancy Fike, the hope is to catalog the history of the city’s different neighborhoods and subdivisions, and one of the first ones on the list was the Country Club subdivision.

Fike, a former commission member who served as the McHenry County Historical Society and Museum’s administrator from 1986 to her retirement last year, lives in the subdivision, which dates to the early 1920s.

She plans on speaking to the council at its Monday meeting about her concerns over how the proposed project could change the character of the neighborhood.

“Historic preservation takes the long view,” she said. “You can literally change history by demolishing or altering what they consider their downtown area or their neighborhood.”

NOTE TO READERS: The name of the subdivision was corrected in this story.

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