by Louise R. SHAW
BOUNTIFUL—Demolition of a home in Bountiful’s historic neighborhood has been put on hold after concerns were expressed to city leaders by descendants of one of the former property owners, a past governor of Utah.
The home at 73 W. 100 North is a building within the city’s historical district boundaries, and is classified as a contributing structure within the district, according to Gary Hill, city manager.
It was built in 1903 and had fallen into disrepair when the Redevelopment Agency of Bountiful City purchased it in November 2016, he said.
In the 21 months since the city took ownership, it has become more distressed, according to family members. The city reports that a squatter has been reported on site.
“The home was vacant and in disrepair and had been for a long time,” said Hill. “We were, and are, concerned that the home is a liability.”
The home was appraised at $311,390 by Valbridge Property Advisors, but the price was discounted by $15,000 to pay for demolition. In the end, the city paid $300,000.
The property was purchased to provide additional parking downtown, said Hill. Supporting economic development and downtown businesses by providing parking and preserving history are both needs the city must balance, he said.
The city established a Historic Preservation Commission in December 2016, as an advisory body to the city council.
The commission, as outlined in the Historic Preservation Ordinance, is tasked with conducting research and collecting information on the city’s history, to “identify historic properties within the city” and to maintain “a detailed inventory of the designated districts, sites, and/or structures.”
The commission currently has no ability to delay demolition or weigh in on demolition decisions, according to one member. Only to document it before demolition.
In a section on demolition of a historic site, the policy outlines the right of the commission to “document its physical appearance before that action takes place.”
“The City will delay issuing a demolition permit for a maximum of one week and will notify a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, which will take responsibility for the documentation,” reads the ordinance.
Documentation of the structure before demolition can include exterior photographs and measurements, it reads, and the “demolition permit may be issued after one week of the initial application whether or not the Commission has documented the building.”
Richard Higginson, a member of the Bountiful City Council and liaison with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, was notified of the demolition application on the home on July 19.
“I conveyed the permit request information to the historical groups, they provided feedback, I contacted city staff and the process was immediately halted,” he said.
According to descendants of a past owner, the home was once the home of Charles Mabey.
Ralph Mabey, a grandson, said his grandfather lived in the home before he was elected governor and for the first half of his term as governor, in 1921 and 1922.
When he learned that the city had applied for a demolition permit, Mabey wrote to Mayor Randy Lewis, expressing his opposition to the demolition of the home he said is a historic landmark important to Bountiful and the state of Utah. He wrote that the city allowed the home to “deteriorate into its present condition.”
Hill talked with Mayor Lewis on Monday, July 23, and then with Chad Wilkinson, the city’s planning director on July 24, and agreed to put a hold on the demolition order.
While the demolition is on hold, Hill said the city will need to clean the property and take down a shed that was being used by a homeless person.
He said he is open to plans to use the home for something else, though the city’s RDA has already invested in the home at 305 S. Main and helped finance its renovation into a museum.
Ultimately, the decision will be made by the city council, he said.