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


  • 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?


  • 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.

General Practices

  • 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”

Learn more about the Conference:

2019 Conference Presentations – APA Maryland

APA Maryland held its 2019 Biennial Conference on October 6th through 8th at the Rocky Gap Casino * Resort in Cumberland, Maryland. Our conference theme was Negotiating Change: Balancing Development, Climate Change, and Preservation in Maryland. As a small, densely-populated state, Maryland is in a constant struggle to find and keep this balance in both its urban and rural areas.