Lawyers Hill named historic district

March 11, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

The county Zoning Board this week unanimously approved the county's second historic district, which includes 40 properties in the Lawyers Hill neighborhood of Elkridge.

But the board agreed to designate less than half the land originally proposed for the district, citing opposition from the state and other property owners.

The 4-0 vote by members of the County Council, sitting as the board, came at a work session Wednesday night.

The county historic district was to have included 14 homes along Montgomery Road, Belmont Woods Road and Elibank Drive. But those properties were excluded by the board.

Instead, the board applied the historic designation to Old Lawyers Hill Road, Lawyers Hill Road and River Road. The Lawyers Hill community -- which has some homes dating from the 1700s -- got its name as a summer retreat for Baltimore jurists.

Like the area approved by the board, the area excluded is still protected from federally-funded projects, such as highways, because it recently was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The county historic district designation does not change the area's zoning, but requires that any new construction or exterior alterations be approved by the Historic District Commission.

Currently, the commission governs the county's only other historic district, in Ellicott City.

The board's decision will become final after members sign a written order, which could take several weeks to complete.

Florence Bahr, who moved to Old Lawyers Hill Road in 1947, said she was pleased that the district will be created.

Although the property restrictions would be "inconvenient in some ways," the historic district "slows up great changes, you know. Because it has so much history, I think it's just as well."

In approving the new historic district, the board excluded all properties on the northwest side of Interstate 95.

Board Chairman Paul Farragut said the decision was based on local opposition.

"There are very few historic structures on the west side of 95, and four of the property owners proposed for the district did not want to be included unless the [Patapsco Valley State Park] next them was included," he said.

In addition, the state Department of Natural Resources had concerns about including state park property in the district.

Tutbury, a Gothic-style gabled-roof brick home built about 1850, is the only property that county planners consider historically significant that is located on land now excluded from the historic district.

In other zoning matters this week, board members approved a package of corrections to "clean up" errors made during comprehensive rezoning.

Among them was a change involving Darlene Neel, a Savage property owner.

Because the residential zoning for Ms. Neel's duplex did not allow two-family dwellings, a potential buyer wanted assurances that it could continue to be used in this manner.

Ms. Neel applied for a document that would show the house was exempt from the restriction. But after she filed her petition, the Zoning Board unwittingly changed the zoning in the vicinity of her home to "general business" -- the same zoning used for shopping centers.

As it turned out, the rezoning was intended for the neighboring Savage Mill property, not the short strip of houses that includes Ms. Neel's property.

The board's vote restored her property's residential zoning status.

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