After trees were cut down in Lawyers Mall, Annapolis leaders seek more control of historic plaza

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

The crab apple trees that flanked Lawyers Mall in Annapolis may have been unceremoniously razed earlier this year, but their legacy lives on in two bills seeking to prevent future unilateral decisions about the State House landscape.

The bills moving through the General Assembly call for expanding the jurisdiction of the State House Trust to include Lawyers Mall, the bricked plaza that serves as a square for protests, tourists and lobbyists. The trust — a panel that includes both House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller — currently has authority over changes to the State House and landscape around the building, an area circumscribed by State Circle.

The Maryland Senate unanimously approved legislation that would give the State House Trust veto authority over any future changes to Lawyers Mall. And the House gave unanimous approval to a version that provides the trust with authority over everything but emergency repairs.

The Hogan administration said the trees had to go to make emergency repairs to the complex’s three-decade-old heating system. A larger renovation of the system is planned for next year.

Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said the administration does not oppose allowing the trust to weigh in on discussions about future changes at Lawyers Mall.

After the crab apple trees were cut down in January to make repairs to a leaking steam pipe below, Miller vowed to replant them. “It’s pretty upsetting,” he said at the time. “It ruins the landscape of the State House.”

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