Rochester Williams House stands strong - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Rochester Williams House stands strong

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- A 144-year-old home in Rochester will continue to stand strong after its fate was challenged by a realty company looking to build a new apartment complex in its place.

The discussion by the Rochester City Council Monday raised two separate issues: Will the Williams House continue to stand and what the city of Rochester will do in the future in similar cases?

The meeting was packed with citizens who brought along their opinions. "The neighborhoods were very organized and very thoughtful with the comments they brought forward," said City Councilman Randy Staver. "They feel very passionate about their neighborhood in this southwest area."

Hamilton Realty Estate has plans for the 144-year-old Williams House on 506 Street Southwest, wanting to turn the now 6-room apartment into a 52-room complex.

Meaning the residential zoning would need to be switched to R-4. "It did not pass it stayed R-2," said Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede. "So we don't know what the next step will be. But basically, it wasn't so much about the historic on that one it was that that's a big building to put in there."

Also among the discussions at the committee of the whole meeting, the separate topic of historic preservation in Rochester. Staver explains the "preservation committee is suggesting criteria that would be used in terms of designating a particular piece of property as heritage in nature."'

It would stop a homeowner from 'jumping the gun' in tearing down their historically significant property, an idea Mayor Brede hopes would become a reality.

"Before somebody would do something it would at least have to come and have a public hearing or at least the council would have to look at it and say well this is one of them that's been put on maybe not a registry yet, but it has some significance in this community," said Brede.

Of course, then the conflict of what rights does the homeowner have against the city arises.

An ordinance has been drafted and will be up for discussion at the city council's August 20 meeting.

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