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17 December 2002 | Approved: 21 January 2003

Present: David Neumann, Vice Chair, Chris Kirtz, and Larry French.

The meeting began at 7:00 p.m. with the members present approving the minutes of the past meeting held on Nov 19, 2002.

The first part of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of a historic house, which was recently rendered uninhabitable by fire.

David Neumann reported that he had sent a letter on behalf of the HPC to the owner, Mrs. Julia S. K. Marks, explaining that the HPC was interested in helping her save her house and requesting permission to survey the interior to determine how extensive the damage had been. He also described the Maryland State Heritage Tax Credit program administered by the Maryland Historical Trust which provides access to a 20% state income tax credit for the preservation of historic structures.

The mayor, John Compton, informed the HPC by e-mail that the town was not doing anything formal regarding the property. Further, the mayor believed that the structure could be torn down and rebuilt on its original footprint based on Article 7, Section 5.31 regarding structures not in compliance with setbacks. The mayor also reminded the HPC that it had $2000 available in the budget which it could use toward a survey of the damage.

David Neumann noted that, when non-complying structures are, for whatever reasons, demolished, owners desiring to rebuild on the footprint and continue in non-compliance are not required to rebuild within some specified period of time. He indicated that there may be a need to deal with the issue of vacant buildings, and that there possibly should be limits to the time the Town will permit an owner to rebuild a non-complying footprint.

Ed Roberts attended the meeting and requested that he be permitted to speak about the damaged house. He suggested that the HPC should take whatever actions it can to preserve the house. He discussed sources of financial help and technical assistance available to Mrs. Marks citing, in the latter case, Brian Blundell, owner of two Rockville firms specializing in restoration: Dell and HPC. In addition, he reported that, from what he could see through a window, there appeared to be considerable smoke damage, but somewhat less fire damage than anticipated.

Ed Roberts noted the importance of photographic documentation of the historic houses in town and offered to supply the HPC with a digital camera and software required. Larry French and Chris Kirtz expressed interested in working on this project. It was decided to undertake it through the Heritage Committee.

Subsequently, the HPC turned to a resubmission of a project at 413 Washington Grove Ln. Because the updated version of the project differed only slightly from the earlier version, which had been reviewed, and because the modifications were in line with those suggested in the review, the HPC decided to refer all concerned parties to the earlier review.

A proposal to enclose a portion of the porch at 207 Grove Ave. was also discussed. Larry French suggested that since this proposal was the first to modify a significant part of a historic structure it would be prudent to include the other two members in a special meeting to examine the project. David Neumann and Chris Kirtz agreed to this delay and the latter volunteered to call Ralph Hurst, the architect, to inform him.

Finally, Chris Kirtz agreed to type up the list of contributing structures in the town, but noted that the status of some houses in town remained unclear.

After setting the next meeting for January 21st, the HPC adjourned and its brave members trudged off into the rainy night.

Respectfully submitted by Larry French.

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