1734 Christian Herr II house

West Lampeter Township supervisors granted a permit to demolish this house, which was built in 1734.

 

West Lampeter Township Monday cleared the way for demolition of a house built in 1734.

Three supervisors voted to approve a request from Randy and Christine Andrews, 421 Penn Grant Road, for a permit to tear down their home to make space for a new one.

An original section of the two-story structure was built by Christian Herr II, son of Christian Herr I, who created the Hans Herr House.

"I will reluctantly concur with serious reservations," supervisor Terry Kauffman read in a statement before the vote.

The board voted on the matter near the beginning of Monday's meeting.

Kauffman and fellow supervisors Randy Moyer and Robert Patterson voted for the permit. Two other supervisors on the five-member board, Barry Hershey and James Kalenich, were both absent from a July hearing and abstained from the Monday vote. The issue had been discussed at length in July.

Moyer, who made the motion, said the decision was based on 55 findings of fact and 28 conclusions of law.

Kauffman said the current ordinance and "a slim preponderance of the evidence" led to his decision.

Kauffman encouraged the couple to reach out to a historical organization to salvage as much as possible from the original part of the home.

Randy Andrews declined comment after the decision, but his lawyer Jim Thomas said he and Andrews would read the decision before saying anything publicly about it.

Neither Andrews nor Thomas said when demolition would begin. Thomas said the project "was a work in progress."

No public comment was made on the matter during the meeting.

Following the decision, two historic group representatives gave their opinions in the township building's lobby.

Joe Patterson, executive director of the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County, said the organization would ask the owners to work with trust to document the house. Information gathered would be included in the trust's archives for future generations.

Ronaldo Santiago, executive director of the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, said the home was a complement to the adjacent Hans Herr House property.

The township's 2006 zoning ordinance requires that demolition permits for buildings deemed historic be denied unless it can be shown that the building cannot "feasibly and reasonably be reused," and that denying a demolition permit would result in "unreasonable economic hardship" to the owner.

The owners, during a June township planning commission meeting, said the house has serious problems, such as two bowed beams, including one with a significant crack. Randy Andrews said they had considered renovations, but the structure was worn out and had multiple changes and additions through the years.

During that planning commission meeting, Becky Gochnauer, director of the nearby 1719 Hans Herr House said, "This house is an irreplaceable part of Lancaster County history."

​Carole Deck is a correspondent for Lancaster Newspapers.