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The carriage house beside the home at 836 S. Delaware Ave. is classified as a historic structure – a designation council made official April 4. 
Provided by city of Springfield 
The carriage house beside the home at 836 S. Delaware Ave. is classified as a historic structure – a designation council made official April 4. 

Carriage house rule comes before City Council 

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It turns out that to establish a short-term rental property in a carriage house in Springfield, that property attached to a residence must be designated a historic structure. 

Property owners Ryan and Elaine Jones, who wish to establish an Airbnb-type rental in the carriage house attached to property at 836 S. Delaware Ave., submitted a request to Springfield City Council to have the split-level wood frame former carriage house declared historic. 

The move is required for carriage houses built before 1940. 

“They’ll have to apply for the short-term rental for this property, but in order to do so for a carriage house, they have to have this historic designation,” said Susan Istenes, director of planning and development, to council at its meeting April 4. 

Council unanimously approved the designation, but some members raised questions about that unusual requirement. Councilperson Richard Ollis asked Istenes how the historic designation, specifically applied to a carriage house, changes anything with regard to a short-term rental. 

“I would like for you to elaborate on that and explain the regulation and how it applies to a historic carriage house versus a regular carriage house,” he said. 

For the most part, the horses that were kept in carriage houses were replaced by cars by the end of the 1920s, according to Scientific American – and this suggests that any carriage house in Springfield is by its nature historic. 

Istenes said city code encourages the preservation of historic carriage houses, many of which have been converted to apartments or second homes. 

“One of the purposes behind the code was to ensure that in order to keep these historic carriage houses preserved and allow them for short-term rental, the historic designation had to be made for a carriage house,” Istenes said. 

She added the historic designation – recommended unanimously by the city’s Landmarks Board – is the first step in the process, and if approved, the owners would have to go through the regular short-term rental approval process. 

Councilperson Heather Hardinger asked if the primary residence, too, had been designated as historic or if the owners were trying to certify only the carriage house. 

Istenes said that the application for historic designation applies only to the carriage house. 

Councilperson Craig Hosmer also expressed confusion. 

“I didn’t think in the short-term rental ordinance that we passed there was any requirement for a historic designation – just the carriage house had to be built before 1940,” he said. 

City Attorney Rhonda Lewsader cited city code 36-573, which says Type 1 or 2 short-term rentals can be located only in a primary structure or historic carriage house, with reference to another section of code that describes acquiring the historic designation. 

Council adopted its short-term rental policy in January 2019. 

According to past Springfield Business Journal reporting, city code categorizes short-term rental properties into three types. 

A Type 1 rental is an owner-occupied property located in the primary structure or a historic carriage house. A Type 2 property isn’t owner-occupied, and the owner must obtain a certificate of occupancy and an annual business license.  Only Type 1 and 2 properties are allowed in single-family residential and residential townhouse districts, according to city documents. Type 3 properties are similar to Type 2 but are located in other districts. 

“There are people using carriage houses in Springfield that haven’t been designated as historic locations, which would be in violation of the ordinance,” Hosmer said. 

Lewsader responded that if they have not received the historic designation and a former carriage house is being used as a Type 1 or 2 short-term rental, it would not seem that they are in conformance with the code. 

Despite some council members’ perplexity about the requirement, the resolution passed without objection. 

The carriage house on Delaware Avenue was originally built about 110 years ago by Alexander and Susie Calhoun, owners of the Calhoun Buggy and Implement Co., located downtown, according to information presented to council. 

The property began with 25 acres of farmland, for which the Calhouns paid property taxes as early as 1894. The family sold more and more property until the property shrank to its present size, the Landmarks Board reported in a document included with the council resolution. 

“The cause of this was the growth of the Rountree neighborhood. This happened largely in the second and third decades of the 20th century,” the Landmarks Board report stated. 

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