The progress of relocating a small historic structure has stalled as another step has been added to the process.
A variance request has been submitted regarding the Kitchings Mill Library and its prospective relocation into the city limits.
The plan to move the structure to the Aiken County Historical Museum property from its current location on Highway 4 was approved by the City Design Review Board in early March. But, the Board asked that the applicant, museum Executive Director Elliott Levy, come back in April with a clear plan of exactly where on the property the library would be located.
That item was on the table at the next Design Review Board meeting, but was continued.
Now, the Board of Zoning Appeals will look at a variance request to allow the building to be located approximately 15 feet from the property line rather than the 50 feet that is required by the City’s zoning ordinance, said City Planner Susan French.
French said that initially, the idea was to put the building upon a steep hill behind the Banksia, which houses the museum. According to the applicant, that would require significant grading that will not only make the library difficult to access, but it wouldn’t blend in with the other structures on the property. Therefore, it would be ideal to locate it farther back.
If the Board of Zoning Appeals approves the request, the item will be returned to the Design Review Board in June.
Levy said that the process is taking a lot longer than he expected but it’s important that this structure gets preserved.
“It (the library) can be the place to tell about the small communities that a lot of people don’t know about, and if the only thing that people know about Salley is the Chitlin Strut, that’s shortchanging that area and its history and its heritage.”
The Kitchings Mill Library was established by Della and James Kitching around the turn of the century.
Della had a desire to promote literacy to the Kitchings Mill community. She stocked the library and set up a foundation to maintain it.
About 25 years later, the foundation was no longer able to sustain the library, so the property reverted to Della Kitching.
The Kitchings Mill Library building was occupied by her descendants until 2012 when Jerry Waters, who last owned the property, was contacted by the family of then-resident Virginia Surles, who was moving into an assisted living home. Surles tasked Waters to assist in the preservation of the old library.
The Board of Zoning Appeals meeting will be held May 28 at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, located at 214 Park Ave. S.W.
Amy Banton is the city beat reporter and has been with the Aiken Standard since May 2010. She is a native of Rustburg, Va., and a graduate of Randolph Macon Woman’s College.