State says no to plan of historic district panel


In Friday's Carroll County editions, a story about the county's historic district should have said that ordinary maintenance that does not change the exterior appearance of a building -- such as repainting the building the same color -- does not have to be approved by the Historic District Commission.

The Sun regrets the errors.

A committee revising the county's historic district zoning law will have to change course as the result of a legal opinion received yesterday.

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. wrote that a Carroll zoning law governing historic districts cannot conflict with state law.

A 14-member citizens committee that is revising the county's historic district ordinance had proposed a change that County Attorney Charles W. "Chuck" Thompson Jr. said went beyond what is allowed in state law.

In April, the county commissioners asked Mr. Curran for an opinion on the matter.

The committee had proposed that property owners in county historic districts be allowed to do "ordinary maintenance" on the outside of their buildings without first obtaining permission from the Carroll County Historic District Commission, said county planner Bobbi Moser, who is working on the project.

The three-member commission reviews planned changes to properties in Carroll's only designated historic district -- Uniontown.

Ordinary maintenance would include repainting a house the same color or replacing old shutters with identical new ones, Ms. Moser said.

The committee believed the change would make the ordinance "reasonable" and would reflect the intent of the state law, which is Article 66b, Section 8 of the Maryland Code, she said.

But Mr. Thompson said the change would conflict with state law.

Mr. Curran agreed in his opinion dated Tuesday.

Historic District Commission Chairman Jim Smith of Uniontown said yesterday he had not read the opinion and could not comment.

Ms. Moser said the committee revising the ordinance last met in the spring. The group will meet to discuss Mr. Curran's opinion, but she said she wasn't sure what the group will do.

"I'm not sure what the next step is," she said.

The committee began revising Carroll's historic district zoning ordinance, which was written in the early 1970s, in June 1992, Ms. Moser said.

The county had to revise its ordinance, bringing it into line with the state law in technical respects, to qualify for federal grants for historic preservation projects, she said.

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