Council debates bill on historic agency Residency requirement angers some members

December 17, 1996|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Few residents attended last night's city council hearing on whether to support a bill that would ban nonresidents from serving on the Annapolis Historic District Commission.

Some council members were angered by the bill, which was introduced by Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins last week, but few residents seemed to be concerned.

The bill's strongest critic last night was Alderman M. Theresa DeGraff, who questioned its timing.

"It was less than 60 days ago that the council voted on this issue," said DeGraff, a Ward 7 Republican who co-sponsored the original legislation, approved by a 6-2 vote, to allow nonresidents on the commission. "It was a very contentious issue many folks were very upset for several years until the bill was passed," she said.

"I am concerned this negates all council votes," DeGraff said. "Nothing would ever be final. What kind of precedent are we setting here?"

Hopkins defended his bill.

"I'm not trying to defeat this council," he began. "If this bill doesn't pass, it doesn't pass."

He said that when he joined the council as an alderman in 1961, no law was in place to protect historic buildings, so he successfully pushed a bill to create a preservation committee.

"When the state created laws establishing the Historic District Commission, that committee was no longer needed," Hopkins said, adding that he wants to be sure that historic buildings will be preserved now and in the future.

He said the only way to do that is to have community members serve on the committee; thus, he introduced a bill that would make residency a requirement. The mayor said Annapolis has a wealth of residents who know about the capital's historic buildings.

Robert Worden, one of the few residents who showed up at last night's hearing, agreed with Hopkins.

"I feel very uncomfortable with having nonresidents, who don't have the same stake we do, making decisions that will effect us," said Worden, a Ward 1 resident.

Pub Date: 12/17/96

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