Rezoning of ‘little house’ behind the Civic goes to Council

The Webb City Planning and Zoning Commission voted to advance a request by Neil VanLue rezone a house in back of the Civic Theater building on West Daugherty Street from commercial to residential.

The theater portion of the Civic, where the seats and screen were, was demolished in the 1980s. A courtyard and the house are now in its place.

VanLue, of NC Homes, is splitting the lot and told commission members that someone wants to buy the house. He is in the process of improving access to the house from Austin Street.

VanLue and NC Homes currently own the entire half block. The front of the Civic and buildings to the west will continue to be zoned commercial.

A council bill to approve the rezoning for the house could be on the City Council’s agenda as soon as the next meeting, which will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Tina Knight, commission secretary, has announced that commission member Rhonda Thompson has turned in her resignation because of a time conflict with her new job.

Commission members are, chairman Rick Utter, Melissa Annis, Ryan Evitts, Clarence Greeno, Mike Moore and Chris Taylor.

The Civic’s last four decades

Susie Benson Crutcher helps us remember what’s happened to the Civic during the last four decades. Her parents, Jane and Bruce Benson, bought the Civic in the mid 1980s, with the hope of renovating it for Jane’s dance studio recitals.

However, the theater portion in the back had to be torn down because years of damage from the leaking roof had caused the walls to pull away.

Her parents thought the lobby and office would make a great art-deco apartment to rent. But they loved it so much as they were working on it that they decided to move from their house on Madison Street to live in it themselves.

Around 1991, Susie’s brother, Van Benson and her dad built a little office building in back of the Civic for Van’s car lot. Then, about 1995, Van moved his business to the old gas station on the corner west of the Civic and her parents added onto the back office building to make the “little house.” They moved into the little house and rented the Civic to a church. They had a few other renters before moving back into the Civic around 2000.

They rented out the little house and bought the lot north up to Austin Street.

Susie says that evidently her parents’ property in that block was considered one tract because after Jane died in 2014 Bruce wanted to sell the little house, but the city told him it did not have enough land with it to consider it residential, so he kept it as a rental.