When attending the American Planning Association Maryland Chapter Conference on “Negotiating Change: Balancing Development, Climate Change, and Preservation in Maryland,” I attended Frederick County’s Historic Preservation Workshop led by Lisa Mroszcyzk Murphy and Christina Martinkosky. The title of the presentation was “Demolition Review: A Historic Preservation Tool for Communities.”
I’ve gone through my notes and created a short set of metrics I’d like to share:
Factors for Review
Factors for the assessing individual structures
AGE AND STORY
- Is the property a candidate for historic integrity? Is there notable merit or heritage use?
- Has there been alteration to the structure? Has there been a loss of integrity? Has it been compromised? Does what remains effectively ‘tell the story’? Where’s the documentation?
- Is the property less than 50 years old or is it older?
- Does the architecture’s form speak to a vernacular? Is it original? Or prefabricated? Is it popular today or back then? Rare and unusual?
- Is it worthy of today’s modern interest? Tomorrow’s?
- Does the structure hold integrity for ethnic design?
- Is it visually interesting today or was it when it was built?
LAND USE AND OWNERSHIP
- Has a permit application been filed for designation, renovation, or demolition? Without historic designation, the owner of a demolition or renovation who has received a permit cannot be held to account for historic preservation. Questions are:
- Is the structure in an overlay district or historic district?
- Does the structure align with today’s land use patterns?
- What is the current or most recent tenant activity?
- Is there potential reuse for the property today with the filing? Is there active developer interest?
- Are there existing liens? What’s the property’s value?
- Has the property been donated? Does the owner object to a renovation/demolition?
- If the owner is a non-profit who is championing renovation or demolition, what is their actual capacity to conduct the work?
- Does the current owner and does the current tenant value the land more than the property’s structures?
- Is there a case for demolition by neglect? Is neglect or blight recognized in an existing maintenance code?
- Are there adjacent structures on the property? Are they more valuable or significant? Are they in need of moving? If so, create a relocation plan.
- Is an addition desired to uphold current occupancy? Zoning? Is there a non-conforming use being proposed? Designation can influence politics and public perception.
- What is the cost of designation? there is a consequence. However, cost should NOT be a factor for significance.
- Can the review process delay developers and their development?
- County’s code follows Maryland Historic Trust, which follows the National Register’s Criteria
- If the goal is to “protect neighborhood character,” is historic preservation the best tool to enable or disable the structure from being renovated or demolished? Or is it a permitting issue? What tools are otherwise available? Code enforcement and preservation may be better tools to address infractions. The departments should talk. A demolition moratorium may be needed.
- A facade renovation is not demolition – Relating to ‘Facadism’ – Is a new proposal design just ugly and against the neighborhood criteria?
- Partial demolitions do matter.
- What is the preservation staff’s ability to offer and administrate guidance? Has an application actually been filed?
View the Presentation on “Demolition Review: A Historic Preservation Tool for Communities”
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