By MATT BLOIS
Nolensville delayed a decision about moving a historic home to give preservationists more time to research other options.
The town’s attorney will also investigate whether the Historic Zoning Commission has the authority to make the decision because there seems to be a conflict between the town’s municipal code and state law.
The Historic Zoning Commission met on Thursday night to review a plan to move the historic George W. Morton House on Nolensville Road. The home was built in the 1870s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The property is part of a future commercial development called the Hillside Center, which is being built by Malakouti Architects. In February, the Commission did not allow the company to demolish the home because of its historic value.
Franklin resident Heather Winiecki has proposed moving the house from its current location to a property about eight miles away.
During the public comment period, residents praised the plan to restore the home but also asked for time to research other options. Bari Beasley, the CEO of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, wrote a letter asking the Historic Zoning Commission to delay a decision.
“The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County has spend a considerable amount of time researching different preservation options for the house,” she wrote in the letter. “The Foundation feels there is still some additional research to be done.”
The Heritage Foundation recommended subdividing the land and building the commercial development around the home. Beasley wrote that would help maintain the homes accreditation with the National Register of Historic Places.
As an alternative, the Foundation recommended moving the home to Nolensville’s historic district. The currently proposed site for the home is west of the town’s center.
According to Beasley’s letter, moving the home could put the home’s National Register of Historic Places accreditation at risk. She wrote that moving it to the historic district rather than a residential area might help preserve its status.
Beasley was not at the meeting, but members of the Nolensville Historical Society referenced some of the points in the letter during the public comment period.
An attorney representing the developer also argued that the town’s Historic Zoning Commission doesn’t have the authority to weigh in on the plan because the home isn’t in a historic district.
The town’s zoning ordinance gives the Historic Zoning Commission the power to review plans to alter, demolish or relocate any historic site or structure or any site or structure location within a designated historic district.
State law says any proposal to alter, repair, rehabilitate, demolish or relocate a building or structure within a historic zone or district needs to be reviewed by the local historic zoning commission. The George W. Morton house is not in a Historic Zoning District.
Nolensville Town Attorney Bob Notestine said he hasn’t reviewed reviewed case law about that state law, but agreed there appears to be a conflict.
“The statute he’s talking about … seems to limit the ability of a Historic Zoning Commission to issue a certificate of appropriateness to properties in a historic zone,” he said. “Our ordinance does not. Our ordinance goes a little broader than that. It gives us the power to grant a certificate or appropriateness to any historic site or structure … We’ve got some conflict between the state statute and our ordinance.”
The Historic Zoning Commission voted 3-0 to defer the decision until January. The Commission argued that would give the town more time to research the potential legal conflict and would give the Heritage Foundation more time to research other options to restore the home.
Commissioner and local real estate agent Tommy Dugger recused himself from the vote.