Suddenly, it seems, small towns in Carroll and Frederick counties are pondering their future. Westminster, Emmitsburg and Sykesville are debating strict historic preservation measures. Meanwhile, local businessmen are wondering how they could make Taneytown look more like Emmitsburg, which they see as a model of an attractive little town with historic streetlighting and a tidy downtown.
In that context, it is ironic that political leaders and the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association are fighting like cats and dogs over a move to nominate their town's older areas to the National Register of Historic Places. Mayor Robert Preston and Councilman Tom Gingell are critical of the effort, fearing it will lead to unnecessary intervention by agencies not controlled by the local government. For their part, many businessmen favor it, because a historic place designation would make Emmitsburg residents eligible for tax incentives, low-interest loans and government grants.
These same issues are being debated in Westminster, where the mayor and the city council are considering a plan for a historic district in an area roughly bounded by Manchester Avenue, Key Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Proponents say the measure would prevent further demolition of historic landmarks. Opponents argue strict preservation rules would stop progress in the Carroll County seat.