Decision on Annapolis Starbucks delayed

December 14, 2005|By JAMIE STIEHM | JAMIE STIEHM,SUN REPORTER

The Annapolis' Historic Preservation Commission decided last night to postpone reviewing a proposal to open a Starbucks coffee shop inside a historic inn on Church Circle.

Commission Chairman William Schmickle said the coffee shop owners lack building code approval from the city's Department of Neighborhoods and Environmental Programs, which has decided that the plans do not meet federal wheelchair and disability access laws.

Schmickle said the commission could not consider or vote on the plans for a coffee shop in the vacant basement room at the 18th-century Maryland Inn until the permit is obtained.

Schmickle told the project architect, Shellie Gazlay, that his panel has no authority to rule on wheelchair access and could make decisions only on changes to the outside of the building, such as signage and streetscaping. "Anything other than external design is Greek to us," he said.

He urged her to return to the panel with a revised plan next month, hinting at a "happy conclusion."

Starbucks could open a coffee shop in the inn's den, formerly home to the King of France Tavern, without the approval of the historic commission. But the company wants to alter the outside of the building with a 3-foot-long sign, which a consultant to the commission has said is too large.

The commission has yet to rule on the sign. Starbucks now has to decide whether to seek a permit and come back to the board.

Gazlay said she would discuss the issue with her clients.

Gregory A. Stiverson, president of the Historic Annapolis Foundation, attended the City Hall hearing in support of the Starbucks project.

In recent days, other history buffs have expressed displeasure at the plan to transform a part of the historic inn into a Starbucks.

jamie.stiehm@baltsun.com

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