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Decision on Fate of Heideloff Mansion Will Have to Wait

Planning Commission defers decision that may designate the 98-year-old mansion a “historic landmark” under the city’s ordinance.

The Lakewood Planning Commission voted Thursday to hold off on a decision that would make the Heideloff mansion the city’s first residential “historic landmark” in Lakewood under the city’s ordinance.

The commission made the decision without nearly half of its members in attendance.

About 20 neighbors of the property did show up, and many of them tried to convince the commission to pass the designation Thursday to keep the 98-year-old mansion at 13474 Edgewater Drive from being demolished.

The neighbors, not the property owners, submitted the paperwork to make the mansion a historic landmark.

At odds is historic preservation versus private property rights.

A law firm representing the Semaan family, which owns the property, had asked the city to push back the ruling to “afford us to compile information.”

“The Semaans did not imitative this process but now have to play catch-up,” according to the request from the Baker Hackenberg and Henning law firm, noting the property requires testing for asbestos contamination.

After receiving notice that the home was under consideration, Michael and Stacey Semaan, then proposed to demolish the home.

The city’s architectural board of review is considering that proposal.

Jeff Weber, a neighbor who presented the historic designation plans, pointed to the architectural and historic significant value of the home — as well as the dwindling number of remaining waterfront mansions.

“This designation would not stop Semaans from building their dream home on the lake,” said Weber. “Of the lakefront mansions that once graced our community between W. 117th Street and Summit, only three — arguably four — still exist.”

Three of the seven planning commission board members (Ruth Gillette, Tamara Karel and Patrick Metzger) were absent.

That factored into the remaining commission members’ decision to defer.

Jim O’Leary, an attorney representing the Semaans, said the family would like to “determine the hardships and other costs” that would be involved.

“It’s certainly no harm to the community to wait an additional 30 days to address this issue.

Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development, said that the city couldn’t approve the demolition until the Semaans have a redevelopment application. 

Commission member Hannah Belsito said it’s a difficult decision because there are “so many homes in Lakewood that would qualify.”

“If I had to pick the most historically significant residential home in Lakewood, would this be the first one I’d pick? I don’t know.” 

The historic landmark ordinance is written as a two-step process: First the planning commission must decide whether a property is eligible for the designation — which it did earlier this month.

The commission will rule next month on whether the property at 13474 Edgewater Drive should receive the designation as Lakewood’s fourth-ever historic landmark.

The other three are St. James Catholic Church, Oldest Stone House and .

DLSJR January 04, 2013 at 03:58 PM
If the neighbors want to truly preserve this house they should have bought the house while it was for sale. They all knew it was going to be demolished and something new was going to be built for the past few years now. Let the owners do what they want. If I were them, I would be painting the whole thing bright orange today.
ian king January 04, 2013 at 10:54 PM
If Lakewood designates this rather mundane house (mislabeled a "mansion", as it is not by Newport/Hamptons/Chicago, etc. standards anywhere near a mansion!) a historical landmark, it will be viewed as laughable and questionable by most historic preservationists across the country. What this is really about is a group of upper class neighbors wanting to use government's historical landmark designation to maintain their secluded neighborhood's limited population, and also its property values. Using government authority this way is really an abuse of the system to benefit the few rich. There is really nothing historic about this house - just because it sits on Lake Erie does not make it have any historical impact or importance to the citizens and history of Lakewood; most of whom are not rich and do not live in neigborhoods on the Lake. What is so special about this property from an architectural perspective? From a historical perspective? And there are far more interesting designed/historical houses in Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, etc., that are not designated with any landmark status. This is sadly a classic example of a few rich/influential neighbors wanting to use/abuse Lakewood city government when it benefits them. I wonder if these neighbors would support converting the Heideloff Home into Federal low income housing/or as a halfway house for troubled youth or drug addict reform. Other hoods/citizens in Lakewood support these programs, so why not here too?
Bob Beck January 06, 2013 at 07:40 PM
I am in full concert with DLSJR and ian king re comments about the unwarranted taking of private property, regardless of its architectural or historical significance. Unless the neighbors have an equitable interest in the property, or are willing to particpate in the refurbishment and occupancy of subject property, this simply amounts to the uncompensated confiscation of an equitable interest in another citizen's private property. It is unwarranted! I believe there are state laws or court decisions requiring just compensation to the owners. Barring that, I'd do something totally irascible like filing like kind actions against all my neighbors and see how much they enjoy "the process" and trying to extract themselves from the tentacles of their grand folley!

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