Future of a Nolensville historic home is up in the air after legal questions, challenges from preservation groups


Future of a Nolensville historic home is up in the air after legal questions, challenges from preservation groups

A photo of the George Morton House submitted to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. / Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

By MATT BLOIS

The future of historic home in Nolensville is in question after preservation groups challenged a plan to move it and the town of Nolensville decided it cannot weigh in on the plan.

The George W. Morton house was built around 1870 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s located on Nolensville Road on the site of a future commercial development called the Hillside Commercial Center.

Last February, the Nolensville Historic Commission didn’t give the developer of the property permission to demolish the house.

During a Historic Zoning Commission meeting in November, Franklin resident Heather Winiecki and the developer, Malakouti Architects, presented a plan to move the home to an area southwest of the town.

At the meeting, a lawyer representing Malakouti Architects argued that the commission didn’t have the authority to approve or disapprove the plan because the home isn’t located in the town’s historic district.

The town’s zoning ordinance allows the commission to make decisions about any historic site or structure. However, state law only allows Historic Zoning Commissions to make decisions about structures in historic districts.

The Historic Zoning Commission delayed a decision to give Nolensville Town Attorney Bob Notestine time to research the potential conflict.

In December, Notestine determined that the commission doesn’t have the power to make a decision about moving the house because of the limits in state law; this gives the developer the freedom to move forward with the project. However, the woman that hoped to restore the relocated house said she may not want to follow through with the project after hearing objections from preservation groups.

During the meeting in November, the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County and members of the Nolensville Historical Society urged the developer to consider other options because moving the home could put its status on the National Register of Historic Places at risk.

In a letter, Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Beasley recommended subdividing the land and building the commercial property around the home or moving the home to a location within the town’s historic district.

After hearing the objections from preservation groups, Winiecki said this week that she’s not sure she wants to move the house anymore. She does not want to move forward with that plan without full support from preservation groups.

“My interest is really kind of waning. It’s really not there anymore,” she said. “When we first started this it was pretty simple, and now it’s a little bit more complicated. I believe in preservation and I don’t want to make anyone upset.”

The Nolensville Historical Society is still researching other options for the home. According to a statement from the group’s president Carroll Moore, the developer has said he plans to demolish the building in January if preservation groups can’t come up with another solution.

“There is active research in progress for sites within the Historic District and other locations inside the Town of Nolensville, with the understanding that the developer plans to demolish the house if it is not moved by the last week of January,” Moore wrote in the statement. “Preservation professionals have consistently advised that the house should not be moved due to its register status.”

No one from Malakouti Architects responded to questions about plans for the home before the publication of this story.

In an email, Notestine wrote that Malakouti Architects wouldn’t need approval from the Historic Zoning Commission to demolish the house because it’s not in a historic district. However, the developer would need a demolition permit from the town.

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