GENEVA – The Geneva Historic Preservation Commission will continue its deliberation on a proposed South Geneva Historic District at 7 p.m. June 18 at FONA International, 1900 Averill Road, Geneva.
The commission closed the public hearing after its third continuance May 21 after an hour of testimony.
The area proposed includes 29 properties, with houses on Batavia Avenue, Elizabeth Place, Shady Avenue, Easton Avenue, Hawthorne Lane and Peck Road. Twenty were in the original application; one was removed and staff recommended an additional 10.
As in previous testimony, some homeowners objected to being included in the proposed historic district, while nominators and supporters spoke in favor of creating it.
Denise Ward of 418 Dodson St., who does not live in the proposed district, challenged the “eclectic” description of the homes, which range from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century.
“This also seems highly subjective that an ‘eclectic’ collection of homes is worthy of historic district designation,” Ward said.
Ward restated some of the testimony in March from Peter Yi, who bought a lot at 814 Batavia Ave., intending to build a wheelchair-accessible home.
If the historic district is approved, Yi would be faced with its restrictive policies.
“I plead with the applicants to take Mr. Yi’s recommendation: Please withdraw the application,” Ward said. “Failing that, I urge the commission to amend the recommendation by removing 814 S. Batavia Ave., and allow the construction of Mr. Yi’s wheelchair-accessible home to begin as soon as possible.”
Nominator Gillian McNamara of 418 Easton Ave. responded to objectors’ comments and criticisms during previous testimony.
“To my neighbors, their families and friends who enjoy our amazing historic downtown, but testify and write letters against our effort, I wonder if any of you have considered how many landmarked homes Geneva would have if it weren’t for Geneva’s current commitment to historic preservation?” McNamara said. “Geneva would have a total of four landmarked houses. Our historic downtown, as we know it, would not exist.”
McNamara said she would have a hard time believing that Geneva could host so many festivals, art shows, car shows and other events if the backdrop was TJ Maxx, Old Navy and McDonald’s.
Noting there was nothing wrong with those establishments, McNamara said they would not draw people to the city as the historic downtown does.
McNamara also cited “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” that brought national attention twice to Geneva during the Christmas Walk that featured historic Third Street.
McNamara said the effort to create a South Geneva Historic District began 11 months ago when neighbors wanted to preserve the Atwater House and others.
“Despite our effort to create something beautiful and meaningful … I have been accused of doing and saying things that are deeply insulting and factually incorrect,” McNamara said.
In response to objectors’ comments and assertions, McNamara filed 53 pages of documents to counter them.
All documents are available on the city’s website, www.geneva.il.us.