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Village may get historic designation


After weeks of bickering among its neighbors, the tiny village of Franklinville in northeast Baltimore County is on the verge of adding another chapter to its mill-town history.

County Council Chairman Vincent J. Gardina, a Democrat whose 5th District includes Franklinville, said yesterday he will introduce legislation to designate it as a county historic district.

"It has a lot of merit," he said. "In the past, we have not always moved to protect the past in Baltimore County."

But his decision to back the legislation has not been easy.

Neighbors with opposing views spoke at a heated public hearing in April. Many thought the designation was an honor that would protect the town's history. Others worried about government regulations.

To be considered for a historic designation, owners of 75 percent of the affected area must agree to it.

Owners of about 84 percent of Franklinville's 17.22 acres are committed to the project, according to figures from Mr. Gardina's office.

One dissenter, Catherine Beverage, who has lived in Franklinville for 17 years, is not happy with Mr. Gardina's bill. "I'm extremely disappointed and will be testing the limits of the law," she said.

Residents in historic districts must seek approval for structural changes from the county Landmarks Preservation Commission.

But Mr. Gardina said he found the county code to be reasonable.

"The record of the Landmarks Commission has been sensitive in dealing with the communities concerning renovations," he said. "There is flexibility."

If the Franklinville legislation is approved, the town will join the county's other historic districts: Lutherville, Glyndon, Sudbrook Park, Monkton, Corbett and possibly Rippling Run Farm in northwest Baltimore County.

The council will decide Monday whether to designate the farm as an historic district. It is scheduled to vote on the Franklinville bill July 3.

Meanwhile, those who support Franklinville's historic status hope opponents will rally to the cause.

"They want to develop a community feeling," said Marlene Rollins, historic preservation chairwoman of the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy. "They're hoping people who are not 100 percent happy will want to be part of it."

The conservancy, dedicated to preserving land and buildings, nominated Franklinville as a historic district to the Landmarks Commission, which accepted the proposal.

Plans are under way for a museum of town artifacts, including its original water pump, a 1930 map of the area and a 1925 photo of the former cotton mill town, Mrs. Rollins said.

"When the whole thing comes together, it makes a nice district," said Mrs. Rollins of the hamlet hugging the banks of Little Gunpowder Falls near the Harford County line. "It's the preservation of a lot of history, from the 1700s to the 1900s. To salvage that one mill and the mill village of Franklinville is a great thing, I think."

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