After Local Board Makes Unusual Recommendation to Eliminate Historic District, Commissioners Ask to Meet With State Professionals

Elkton Town Meeting, August 27, 2011 –   Weeks ago the commissioners were told by some members of the historical and architectural review committee (HARC) that the special district protecting old structures in a few neighborhoods in Elkton should be eliminated or its area should be reduced.  The regulations are far too restrictive and the county seat doesn’t have a historic corridor, the HARC representatives informed officials.

The discussion of that subject continued at this regular meeting as the elected officials decided they would like to hear from professionals at the Maryland Historical Trust, the state agency charged with protecting the State’s past.  Commissioner Jablonski and Mayor Fisona noted that Cory Kegerise, a preservation planner, will attend a meeting with the elected leaders so officials can get a better understanding of obligations and requirements as Elkton struggles to stabilize and protect its old neighborhoods.  Both the Mayor and Commissioner Jablonski, who also serves as the town’s Main Street Manager and the Executive Director of the Elkton Alliance/Chamber, said they want to get professional input before making a decision as they’d had contact from citizens pointing out the value of the municipality’s historic corridors.  “We really need to discuss this as a whole and get some input.  I was quite confused.  I’m glad to hear Cory is coming to a meeting,” Commissioner Jablonski noted.

Forty-eight historic district commissions have been created in Maryland as communities work to protect the “look and feel of their towns,” according to Karen Theimer Brown, a representative of the Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions.  The best way to protect a community’s historic character from inappropriate change is through a local ordinance and district, she noted.

Occasionally historic districts are abolished, but “that action is usually taken as a result of pressure from residents, developers, and landlords,” according to Cory of the Maryland Historical Trust.  “To my knowledge there hasn’t’ been a situation where the members of a commission charged with administering and upholding a preservation ordinance have been the ones to advocate for removal of those policies.”

Elkton's East Main Street neighborhood has a particularly strong collection of attractive late 19th century homes.

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