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City gets update on historic home

February 20, 2019 GMT

City Attorney James Egr recently brought the David City City Council up to speed on the current status of the Chauncey S. Taylor House.

In 2009, the city listed the property as a nuisance and it was condemned last September. The Board of Zoning Adjustment met with homeowners Kathy and Roger Treat back in November 2018 and gave them six months to bring the house and property into compliance. The Treats were also required to have the house emptied of all of the items by the end of 60 days. The consequences for not following their end of the deal would result in the city taking possession of the home and most likely demolishing it.

Egr said he visited with the Treats on Feb. 6. and was told the couple was moving back to their home in Colorado for the time being due to Roger’s declining health. The couple was able to clear out more than 50 percent of the items in the house. He recommended to the board that the Treats be given an additional 30-60 days to bring the property into city compliance.

“You might say it’s probably not in the best interest (of the city) or you might say I’m being too nice about making this particular recommendation,” Egr said. “It is my recommendation that we not press to force the condemnation at this particular point in time, yet.”

Mayor Alan Zavodny said the council couldn’t act on anything in regard to the house during the meeting because it wasn’t a listed agenda item. He suggested the council put the matter on the agenda for its next meeting, set for 7 p.m. on Feb. 27. Zavodny said he was personally torn on what course of action the city should take regarding an extension or not.

“We can’t move the goalpost a ton,” Zavodny said. “I think we need a very formal drop-dead date.”

The property, also known as the Richard Zeilinger House, was built in 1888. It was constructed for Chauncey S. Taylor, a local jeweler. In 1903, he sold it to then-local hardware store owner John Zeilinger, according to The Banner-Press archives. It was owned by the Zeilinger family until 1967 and was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The Treats bought the home from violin maker David Wiebe in May 2003 for $144,900, according to the Butler County assessor’s office.

Ward 1 Council Member Skip Trowbridge said at the meeting that he was concerned that the current situation bared striking similarities to what occurred with a previously owned Treat property in Octavia. The Treats purchased the old post office building located on the corner of Dix and Broad Street in the village in May 2002. Over the years, the building fell into disrepair and was primarily used for storage, it was noted. The village and the Treats went back and forth in court for years until they agreed to gift the property to Octavia in July 2017, which proceeded to tear it down.

“This is exactly the way it ended up in Octavia,” Trowbridge said. “I’m not for tearing that picture of a house down, but we need to get this resolved and by pushing everything ahead, (it) does us no good, whatsoever.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.