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Debate continues about proposed South Geneva Historic District

Supporters and opponents of the proposed South Geneva Historic District sounded off during a public hearing at the March 19 meeting of the Geneva Historic Preservation Commission.

The applicants are nominating 20 properties for inclusion in the district, but not all homeowners in the area support the historic designation.

“The impetus for the creation of this district was a result of the unknown impact of the site at which the Atwater House stands after it was purchased by a developer in 2018,” said Gillian McNamara, one of the six applicants.

McNamara said she and neighboring residents decided to pursue landmarking of the district driven by a passion for historic preservation.

In 2011, the Geneva City Council adopted a strategic plan that included a goal of establishing a South Geneva Historic District.

Since then, six residents, who are all neighbors living within the proposed boundaries of the district, have submitted a nomination for the designation.

“The applicants have paid the deposit that is required, and they have replenished the deposit for the funds that have been used up so far,” Chairman Paul Zellmer said.

Some people at the meeting questioned if the proposed district satisfies all the requirements.

The city finds the applicants have satisfied all six of the standards for designation and seven of the eight identified sub-categories.

Katie Tegge, who lives in the Atwater house, said the matter incites a lot of emotions and is not in favor of the designation.

“My husband I feel ambushed, singled-out, dismissed, and mislead,” she said. “This entire process has made for an extremely anxious few months for our family. We are hoping this matter gets resolved quickly.”

Tegge asked the Historic Preservation Commission not pass a positive recommendation for the South Geneva Historic District.

“The simple truth is that my family is being forced into this proposed district,” she said. “Forced inclusion without owners’ consent, I believe is wrong. When we purchased this home, it was free and clear of any historic designation, and it was outside of Geneva’s existing historic district.”

According to city documents, the Tegge family has not provided support of the nomination.

Several residents have filed objections to the proposal, but a legal protest does not automatically exclude property from inclusion in the district.

Marsha Reinecke, one of the six applicants, said she stands by the application because she wants to ensure her home has protections.

“We’re moving away from our sweet Geneva in July, but I take comfort in knowing that this beautiful house will stand the test of time and remain the same place,” she said.

Teri Debates, who lives at 315 Oakwood Drive and owns commercial property in the downtown historic district at 107 W. State St., said she understands the concerns people may have.

“This council was beyond cooperative, and my property has a lot of eclectic issues,” she said.

Debates said she supports the nomination.

“In my opinion, I’d like to see it expanded because as someone else pointed out, there are other homes around there that are equally as significant,” she said.

A public hearing for the proposed South Geneva Historic District will continue at an April 16 meeting of the Geneva Historic Preservation Commission.


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