Elkton Town Hall, May 11, 2011 – A special meeting of Elkton’s Historic and Architectural Review Committee (HARC) considering a request to demolish 124 and 124 ½ E. Main Street, voted 3 to 1 to allow the removal to continue. The meeting was scheduled after HARC expressed concern that municipal officials were bypassing a regulatory step. At the regular April 27 meeting, the board was informed that the okay to tear down the late 1800s structure wouldn’t be coming before the board as specified in the regulations since officials didn’t want any delays in removing the structure. That caused panel members to express serious concern over the lapse in following municipal ordinances and informed officials it should come before the board.
At this special meeting, which was well attended by HARC standards, the owner, Raphael Santini, appeared to request permission to demolish the structure. The building was in such poor condition that it wasn’t economically feasible to repair it, he told the committee, but there were no plans to rebuild right now. Previously the panel had been informed that three engineering studies had been done and that became a point of consideration as Elkton’s attorney, Norman Wilson, argued that the building was structural unsound. But Josh Brown and others responded that the report didn’t come to that conclusion, but recommended work that needed to be done to keep the structure in good repair. The committee and town attorney exchanged points about that argument several times, as Wilson repeated the assertion that the building was structural unsound.
Wilson joined the owner’s argument on otherpoints, especially in noting that the repairs to the building were not economically feasible. But a member of HARC informed Wilson that the cost burden wasn’t their primary charge. They were to look at whether a structure was historically significant and contributed to the fabric of a community.
Three people from the audience testified in favor of flattening the downtown structure. Dottie and Wes Walker, owners of the adjacent building, the Main Street Café said the building wasn’t in good repair and presented a danger to pedestrians and adjacent properties. Becky McKinney was also in favor of tearing it down.
In preparing to take a vote, the cost came up again. HARC member Mark Clark agreed that repairs would be far more costly than demoliton. With the question on the floor, a HARC representatives asked whether a permit had beeen issued earlier. The town attorney said it was, but the town planner, Jeanne Minner, wasn’t sure. In the issuance of a demolition permit was approved, three to vote. Clark, Brown, and Linda Griffith voted in favor of allowing the project to continue, provided an attractive fence was installed where the building was situated. Paula Newton opposed the question.
Once the formal proceeding were over, Commissioner Mary Jo Jablonski, the town’s Main Street Manager, went up to the meeting table and thanked the HARC members for running an efficient meeting and professionally resolving a difficult question.
Work on the structure, which had stopped for a few days commenced soon after HARC approved of the order.