Couple delays proposal to build in Lawyers Hill Plan for eight houses in historic area criticized


Stunned by criticism from neighbors, an Elkridge couple has delayed presenting the Howard County Historic District Commission (HDC) with a plan to build single-family houses in Lawyers Hill.

Timothy and Susan Coleman, who live in the Lawyers Hill historic district's Hursley Manor, a historic home built in the 1850s on Lawyers Hill Road, are seeking permits to build eight houses on five acres surrounding the home.

The plan -- including a sound barrier and sewer pumping station -- has drawn the ire of some Lawyers Hill residents. It would be the first such development in the area since it joined downtown Ellicott City as an official historic district in 1994.

"There were quite a few concerns from the neighbors," Mr. Coleman said. "There were so many things to consider, we weren't prepared to discuss it at the meeting."

Because county law dictates that all new construction in historic districts must be compatible with standing structures, the HDC members had been scheduled to review the Colemans' plan at last Thursday's meeting and offer general suggestions about architecture, landscaping and other improvements.

The review was rescheduled for March 7.

In other business, HDC members approved the demolition of two buildings in historic Ellicott City -- two months after denying a similar request from the St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church Parish to demolish a 106-year-old building on its land.

Jesse Krauch, property manager for Historic Ellicott Properties Inc., wants to demolish a former lawn mower shop in the 8400 block of Frederick Road and the Butke Log Cabin in the 3800 block of New Cut Road.

The lawn mower shop was damaged in a rash of arson fires about five years ago. Snow from the recent blizzard caused the roof to shift, Mr. Krauch said.

The recent snow also caused the roof of the Butke Log Cabin -- which is listed on the county's Historic Sites Inventory -- to collapse. A certificate of approval to demolish the cabin was granted by the commission in 1993, but expired.

Meanwhile, commission members said they are negotiating with the Rev. Thomas Donaghy at St. Paul's to find other uses for the former parish hall the church wants to demolish.

Six members voted that the former church hall -- which is listed on the Howard County Historic Sites Inventory -- is of unusual architectural importance and should not be demolished, although the building was ordered condemned and boarded up in 1982. One member abstained from voting.

County law provides the commission 90 days to work with the owner to save the building. Commission members will decide at their March meeting whether to extend negotiations with Mr. Donaghy.

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