Annapolis officials halt project near Church Circle

City to seek approval from preservationists

January 25, 2004|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

In a surprising reversal, Annapolis officials have agreed to stop work on a controversial project around Church Circle and seek approval for the work from the city's Historic Preservation Commission.

The city previously had maintained that it did not need the commission's approval for the project because the work already had been approved in the mid-1990s. City officials also said it was a maintenance project, which doesn't need commission approval.

But preservationists claimed that the city was trying to skirt the commission - which must approve most work in the city's historic district - and was disturbing human remains buried near the circle. City workers who were digging trenches, raising curbs and replacing bricks have found several human bones since they began the project Jan. 21.

At a Historic Preservation Commission meeting Thursday night, city officials insisted they didn't need the commission's approval.

But commission members and preservationists attacked the city's stance. Greg Stiverson, president of the Historic Annapolis Foundation, called the city's actions "un-American" and Jim Gibb, an archaeologist who consults with the city, said the city should apologize to the commission for its actions.

Alderwoman Louise M. Hammond said she was "embarrassed" by the city's actions.

After nearly 15 minutes of testimony, Shaem C. Spencer, the city attorney, agreed to seek commission approval.

The commission will hold a hearing about the project on Feb. 17.

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