Building should not be demolished

To the Editor:

I am writing in opposition to an application currently before the Troy Planning Commission to demolish the house at 126 S. Cherry St. in Troy’s Southwest Historic District.

As one of many local residents who greatly appreciate the beauty of Troy’s Public Square and surrounding neighborhoods, I am deeply concerned about the problematic precedent that approval of this application would create. The First United Methodist Church purchased this lovely Italianate home in 2013 with the intention of tearing it down eventually, as a church representative confirmed during a recent planning commission meeting. For nearly seven years, the church has neglected the property, failing to remedy a lead paint issue and claiming that the cost to do so would be too high. The church also has failed to make a clear case that conditions of the property meet the criteria necessary to qualify for demolition.

Supporting the demolition of this 142-year-old home would be tacit support for neglect of, and devaluation of, properties that contribute to the historic character of Troy. Such a decision also would significantly undermine the city’s demolition standards for buildings in the city’s downtown historic district, making it far too easy for other owners to raze downtown properties. I implore the planning commission to look for the “win-win” here and encourage the church to engage in dialogue and fully explore other possible paths forward for this property.

Church representatives have pointed out the cost to rehabilitate this property. I have no doubt that the cost that the community will bear if this demolition is approved will be far, far higher. I urge planning commission members to consider the message that you are sending to residents of the Southwest Historic District — including about their sweat equity and their property values — if you support this erosion of their neighborhood.

Ben Sutherly

— Troy