The face of Westminster Public comment sought in building a facade code for downtown.

August 28, 1996

WESTMINSTER'S EFFORT to refine the outward appearance of its central business district is an encouraging sign that the Carroll County seat is experiencing economic renewal at its heart.

A Frederick architectural firm is soliciting ideas and opinions from people who live, work and own property in the downtown area, to help reshape the city's existing "Standards for 'u Renovation."

The city law contains guidelines for the types of building facades, signs and architecture permitted in the central district along Main Street.

While Westminster could never be accused of being architecturally uniform, a harmony of styles and tastes in the central business district is important in encouraging further revitalization.

"We're interested in getting people excited about seeing their downtown as a whole, as if it were their first time," explained Alan Feinberg of FeinDesign Associates Inc. The firm will hold an open house to explain the aims of the project and will talk individually with merchants and property owners to collect input.

The consultant will also examine the collective appearances of buildings in the five blocks of Main Street between Longwell and Anchor streets, looking at such things as signs, paint, awnings, trim, doors and windows.

The downtown building standards are due for a review and rewrite, in light of recent changes to the area. The project to widen and repave downtown Main Street is finally finished. The Westminster Volunteer Fire Company is moving out. The central Post Office will be vacated within two years.

We don't expect the final proposed code to become a straitjacket for businesses and residences in the downtown, or to unfairly compromise property rights. Rather, it should act as a reinforcing mechanism for development of the district. Open participation of the public in this process should provide a broader scope of ideas for consideration. Using outside experts rather than the city planning staff also encourages a freer exchange of views. This is a positive approach by the Westminster government.

Revitalization of the downtown does not begin at the surface, but it can certainly be encouraged by putting on a pleasant face.

Pub Date: 8/28/96

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