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City Hallways (Feb. 24) Potomac farmhouse demolition rejected

The house stays; the garage can go 

The final decision was the one-time John Chase Lord farmhouse at 794 Potomac stays, but the garage on the property can be demolished.

It was the culmination of a rather unusual city Preservation Board meeting, during which it was disclosed the board's past request that the city landmark the property was never acted upon because the request was made one day past the required time for such requests to be filed, and during which questions were raised over whether the demolition request needs a full environmental evaluation.

Also during the meeting, the property owner's sister made an impassioned plea on behalf of owner Dennis Barry, whom she described as a 70-year-old disabled veteran suffering from Parkinson's disesase, who needs to be able to sell the property, which is his only asset.

Dennis Barry wants to sell the property to a developer, who wants to build 11 townhouses on the site after the existing buildngs  - the house and garage - are demolished. The plan is a compromise from a previous proposal to build 26 condo units on the site. The neighborhood objected to the 26-unit plan.

"My brother is 70 years old, unable to work," Beverly Barry said. "This is his only asset. He doesn't have a pension. He was self-employed. My brother needs to be able to sell.

"This is a man's life," she continued. "Everyone wants to save his house. If you want to save his life, approve this demolition.

"Consider what you are voting on. And how this impacts someone, who is a veteran," she said.

Beverly Barry went on to say the house is in disrepair. "It needs a new roof. The sides are coming down. It has water damage," she said.

What's more, she said, the historic value of the building has been compromised over the years.

"I am here to tell you it is in terrible disrepair. It is not worthy of saving," Beverly Barry said. "It has vinyl siding, vinyl windows. Anything remotely hisotric has been compromised."

But Buffalo architect Anthony James countered that the house has historical character and significance. "To lose it would be a blow to the city," he said. "As far as I know, there are only three others houses of this type I can think of in the city."

The board agreed with James, and rejected the request to demolish the house. The board, however, approved demolition of the car garage behind the house.

Sad news

Lots of shock and sadness in City Hall yesterday after hearing about the death of Frank Garland III,  a friendly face who worked for former Masten Councilman Demone Smith, and Smith's successor, Ulysees Wingo, before taking his most recent job with the city parking office.

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