Lisbon halts building demolition

This building housed many businesses through the years, including the Katy-Did saloon and the Shenandoah. Most recently it was Amanda’s Hope Chest. (Salem News photo by Tom Giambroni)

LISBON –The village has halted plans to demolish an old brick building on North Market Street until experts can determine whether it might harm the adjoining buildings.

Village zoning inspector Zachary Barkley on Monday denied the demolition permit sought by Ben Dickey for 111-115 N. Market St. The two-story brick building was vacant when purchased earlier this year by Maverick Contracting for $5,000 but prior to that it housed a gift shop and a temporary employment agency. It is located between H&R Block and the Columbiana County Law Library/Adult Probation Department on the corner.

Barkley denied the permit after consulting with the village architectural and historical review board (AHRB), which met last week. Barkley, who had until Sept. 18 to act on the permit, was seeking guidance because he could see no reason to deny the permit. AHRB chairman John Deichler and the rest of the board recommended the permit be denied because of structural concerns that were raised during a recent meeting.

The building, like many others in the historic downtown, abuts the building next door, and the AHRB is worried that demolishing Dickey’s building could impact the others.

“A lot those buildings have common walls. We’re talking about some that were built more than 150 years ago, before the Civil War,” he said, adding they are trying to avoid what occurred in downtown Salem a few years ago when the demolition of one building led to the partial collapse of the one next door.

Deichler also noted that many of these old side-by-side buildings were constructed with interior bricks, and tearing down a building next door would expose those interior bricks to the weather and result in its deterioration. “One of our concerns is all of these interior walls are protected,” Deichler said.

The board is compiling a list of experts Dickey could use, if he wants, to determine whether demolition would impact the structural integrity of the buildings next door, and they are hoping the experts would provide the service for free.

“We don’t want to cause anyone financial hardship … but we don’t want to harm other historical buildings either,” Deichler said. “As the owner of the building he certainly has the right to do what he wants with the building, and we understand that.”

The situation is similar to what occurred in July when the owner of the building that houses Numbers Brewery sought permission to demolish the building it acquired next door. The AHRB tried to stop the demolition, saying the permit had to be reviewed by them first. Mayor Joseph Morenz, serving as the acting zoning inspector, disagreed and granted JN Leasing permission to tear down the building, which it did the next day.

Morenz is of the opinion the AHRB has no authority at this point until conflicting regulations are resolved by the village solicitor and the changes are approved by village council. Although the law creating the AHRB has been on the books since 1988, it was dormant until council filled the board positions earlier in the year at the mayor’s request.

Even after the revised regulations are approved, Deichler said it is understanding the only authority the AHRB will have is to make recommendations to the village zoning board of appeals and council.

Morenz noted the building is currently listed for sale at $15,000.