Monday, July 23, 2001

Council to decide building's fate

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The future of the city's oldest building might soon be settled once and for all.

        City Council on Tuesday will consider the Lebanon Conservancy Foundation's offer to pay $100,000 toward the city's purchase of 27 N. Mechanic St. The conservancy also would repair and restore the fire-damaged building within two years.

  • What: Lebanon City Council meeting
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
  • Where: City building, 50 S. Broadway St., or city cable Channel 6
        “We're confident that we will raise the funds,” said conservancy President Marilyn Haley, a downtown shopkeeper. “It just can't be lost.”

        In exchange for its investment, the group would get a 99-year lease on the Federal-style house at $1 per year.

        Council likely will vote on the deal Aug. 14. Other legislation to be introduced Tuesday:

        • A 90-day moratorium on new multifamily housing.

        • Two charter amendments that would go before voters in November. One would eliminate the need for all ordinances to be read in full at meetings, and the other would eliminate the two-year residency requirement for council candidates.

        Lebanon exercised its power to take the Mechanic Street building last year, when businessman John McComb was about to de molish it for parking spaces.

        However, a majority on council appeared ready to let Mr. McComb have it back in May, after a jury decided the city would have to pay $230,000 for it.

        If the city bows out of the purchase it must pay Mr. McComb's legal fees.

        “Taking the property with the conservancy's help is probably the cheapest way to get out of it,” said Councilwoman Jane Davenport, one of the swing votes.

        The conservancy would use the building as its headquarters and let nonprofit and civic groups have meetings and receptions there, Mrs. Haley said.

        The Mechanic Street house was built about 1808, possibly by Shakers, according to conservancy research. It has the elliptical fanlight window and symmetrical facade typical of Federal-style buildings.

        In recent years it was split into apartments until a fire in late 1999.

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