Wilson Tries To Save Historic Structures

April 26, 1992|By Carol Bowers | Carol Bowers,Staff writer

Historic buildings and other structures owned by the county could not be razed without approval from the County Council and the Harford Historic Preservation Commission under a proposal before the council.

Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson said he introduced the measure, put to a public hearing last week, because he believes the county should have a policy of "leadership by example."

Wilson said his proposal was prompted in part by the destruction last year of the old county maternity hospital at routes 22 and 543.

The hospital building, used as an office in recent years, was soldby its private owner to make way for a service station.

"Everybody was wringing their hands and saying, 'There ought to be a law.' Then I got to thinking that county structures are not protected either,"Wilson said.

"There's not much we can do to legislate what a private property owner can do, but we can set an example."

Wilson saidthe other factor in his decision to introduce the bill was his concern over the historic Cherry Hill Road Bridge, at Cherry Hill Road andRocks Road near Rocks State Park.

"In the name of modernity, I was afraid we'd have an I-95 bridge over Deer Creek to replace it," said Wilson.

"We need to do something to get a second lane of trafficgoing, but I didn't want that something to be something that destroys a historic structure and one of the most scenic vistas in the county."

At a public hearing Tuesday, Katie Dallam, chairwoman of the county's Historic Preservation Commission, told the council, "It's thefirst time I've ever testified and been able to be 'rah, rah' about something the council is doing. This addresses all the worst-case scenarios."

Two amendments are expected on the bill, say council members.

One, suggested by Dallam, would describe specifically the types of historic sites and structures the bill would affect.

The other would allow historic buildings and structures to be torn down if county officials determined they represent a safety or health hazard.

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