Walter Sondheim, chairman of Center City-Inner Harbor Development Inc., deserves plaudits for opening the monthly meetings of the Architectural Review Board to reporters.
This is a decision from which all Baltimore residents will benefit. The five-member panel reviews every major construction or renovation project in a 500-acre area that covers Charles Center, Inner Harbor, Inner Harbor East, Market Place, Camden Yards and Market Center. Every change that is likely to affect the downtown skyline or change the city's signature comes under its scrutiny.
When the board was created three decades ago, no one could foresee the scope of Baltimore's urban renaissance -- or the sweeping authority of the board. Yet what started as an advisory body of somewhat tenuous legal status has evolved into a review panel whose actions have become part of the required planning process. Despite legalistic hair-splitting, this board is a public body whose deliberations should be conducted openly.