GENEVA – Nine homeowners have filed objections to a proposed new historic district on Geneva’s south side, one of them alleging in a letter to city officials that the petitioners misled some homeowners into supporting it.
The historic district would include 20 properties, records show.
Gillian McNamara, of 418 Easton Ave., the lead applicant of the five homeowners who proposed it, hung up when a reporter asked her about the allegation that the homeowners were misled by nominators into supporting the new historic district.
Jill Davis, whose property at 902 S. Batavia Ave. is adjacent to the proposed new district, is an objector.
Her objection includes a letter in which she asserts that the historic district proponents wanted to create the historic district to stop the owners of the Atwater House, 398 Elizabeth Ave., formerly 814 S. Batavia Ave., from tearing it down.
The Atwater House is a Greek Revival/Italianate/Queen Ann built in 1867, according to the application.
“The creation of this new historic district seems somewhat disingenuous, with its true end purpose being to ‘save’ the Atwater House; a nominating member alluded to this in a letter distributed to neighbors in 2018,” Davis’ letter stated.
Davis’ letter stated that surrounding the Atwater House with a historic district will not force it to be saved from destruction as its new owners live in it.
Homeowners also were misled into believing the creation of a new historic district would save trees on the Atwater House property; tree protection is not in the Historic Preservation Commission’s jurisdiction, the letter stated.
“The boundaries are arbitrary, based not on aesthetic concerns, but on whether owners consent to [historic] designation,” Davis’ letter stated.
“It is not a coincidence that a chain of homes that surrounded the Atwater House was approached to support a new historic district,” Davis’ letter stated. “Homeowners being recruited to support the new historic district, including my husband and me, were misled when told by a nominating member and a member of the [Historic Preservation Commission] that a supporter could ‘opt out at any time.’”
The couple who bought the historic Atwater House on Nov. 2, 2018, Katie Tegge and her husband, circulated a letter of their own among the neighbors and to city officials.
“I was visited by a nominator on Nov. 3,” Tegge said. “I was asked if we wanted to be included in the district. I told her we did not. She seemed to be receptive – not everybody wanted to opt in. I thought that was that.”
Tegge said she would not say who among the nominators came to her door, but that she believed the person’s fear was allayed as the house was being lived in, not being torn down.
“We bought this as our dream home,” Tegge said.
In the letter, Tegge said they purposely bought a house not in a historic district.
“It is not fair that our right to renovate as we had planned has been taken away from us,” Tegge wrote. “We remain hopeful that the nominating parties will remove our home from the proposed district.”
The Geneva Historic Preservation Commission is set to consider the petition to create the new historic district at a public hearing at 7 p.m. March 19 at FONA International, 1900 Averill Road, Geneva.
Objections and the full application are available on the city’s website, www.geneva.il.us.