MPI Advocacy

Through advocacy, Montgomery Preservation has saved historic buildings and properties, hosted preservation conferences, established a fund for preservation research, and supported other local preservation groups.

Background on Gaithersburg Rezoning and Development Plan

(continued from the home page) In January, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that the City of Gaithersburg violated its zoning law when it rezoned three parcels from a residential to a commercial zone. The Court also overturned a related site plan that proposed more than 20,000 square feet of office space and a 116-space surface parking lot on what is locally known as the Wilson properties at the intersection of South Frederick and DeSellum Avenues. The development significantly impacted adjoining historically significant buildings and the Observatory Heights neighborhood. In late March, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals denied a request from the City and Dr. Wilson that the Court reconsider its January decision.

Dr. Lee Davis Lodge House
Dr. Lee Davis Lodge House
(Dr. Wilson Dental Office)
MPI participated in the rezoning proceedings, arguing that the proposed rezoning ran counter to the master planís recommendations, decades of City commitment to protecting long-established neighborhoods from the intrusion of commercial development, and threatened the nearby Observatory Heights neighborhood, which has been discussed in the past as a possible National Register historic district.

Sterick Cottage
The Sterick Cottage
15 DeSellum Ave.
MPI funded this litigation through its Wayne M. Goldstein Preservation Action fund. "It was clear to MPI that the City's actions violated its code and master plan recommendations," said Judy Christensen, Executive Director of MPI. "In the end, it took the court to uphold the law. This is a tribute to Wayne Goldstein, who was a tireless advocate for historic preservation and good government."

MPI's attorney, Michele Rosenfeld, said that the Court's decision to honor the City's zoning code is significant. "The City argued that this rezoning should be upheld because it had applied the law the same way in the past. Past violations do not justify ongoing violations. Residential neighborhoods throughout Gaithersburg benefit from this ruling, thanks to MPI's commitment to this case."

MPI takes great pride in the fact that the Court of Special Appeals ultimately agreed and that the appeal for reconsideration was denied.

Read the Gazette article on the rezoning attempt.

Metropolitan Branch Trail

(continued from the home page) MPI has NOT denied passage of the Metropolitan Branch trail through our property. It is simply not true. From the start, MPI welcomed the Metropolitan Trail as a way to showcase the historic B&O Station to trail users. Last spring DOT presented MPI with a trail alignment through our property that far better accommodates our programs, and MPI thought we were all going forth with this design. MPI asked several times to meet and address implementation issues such as the loss of parking, liability and compensation but DOT did not meet with us again. Map showing trail

Read the County's Executive Recommendation

A Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) historical easement prohibits MPI from altering or changing the B&O Station property or structures without approval from MHT. DOT knew of this in 2005, and knew that MHT had problems with the design and wanted alternatives, yet did not pursue MHT approval. We were as startled as everyone else that the County Executive Leggett recommended an interim at-grade crossing and removed CIP funding from the project. MPI was assured that this was a fiscal decision and eventually the problem would have to be resolved and the trail completed. However, this does give MPI and DOT the time it needs to deal with the implementation and approval issues with the Maryland Historical Trust. We recommend at least the restoration of funds for planning and consultation with stakeholders to the budget so it can move forward during this period.

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin You may have read an article in the Washington Post recently alleging misuse of County funds in purchasing the Riley Farm/Josiah Henson Special Park, aka "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Nothing could be further from the truth. The article expressed opinions that the Riley/Henson site and the funds spent to research and plan the site were wasted because it is not "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Here's the real story.

The Knapp Amendment

In February 2009, then-Montgomery County Councilmember Michael Knapp introduced a proposal that would have severely weakened the historic preservation law that for 30 years has protected historic places in our County. A public hearing in March 2009 and subsequent letters and emails submitted for the hearing record yielded overwhelming opposition to this proposal; the count was 440 opposed to the Knapp Amendment, with only 16 in favor. Opposition came from public officials; preservation organizations at state, national, and county levels; organizations and municipalities from all corners of Montgomery County; and hundreds of County residents, farmers, business owners, and preservation professionals.

The County Councilís Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee held a work session on Knappís proposal on June 8, and on July 23, 2009, Councilman Knapp held an invitation-only meeting where attendees raised issues of concern. The consensus was that emphasis should be placed on education — of the public, property owners, County Council, and Planning Board — and that communication related to historic designation should be dramatically improved. MPI agreed to assist in this effort.

Where is Mr. Knappís proposal now? Because the Council did not vote on the Knapp amendment within 18 months of its introduction, the proposed legislation expired.

HISTORIC DESIGNATION IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD

Architecturally or historically significant sites may be nominated for designation on Montgomery Countyís Master Plan for Historic Preservation or for a city list. Historic designation adds certain protections and may make property owners eligible for 10 to 30% in financial incentives for approved qualified rehabilitation and maintenance projects.

MPI has prepared a brochure explaining the designation process.

 

Other Successful Advocacy Projects

COMSAT Building


COMSAT Building
Saving the 1978 César Pelli-designed COMSAT building on I-270 near Clarksburg, which was threatened with demolition. MPI held a four-day design charette to demonstrate that the owner's plans for development could easily share the site with the COMSAT Building. The charette was followed with a talk by Mr. Pelli on the impact of this building on his internationally renowned body of work and the work of other architects.

Historic Gaithersburg Farms

Crown Farm
Crown Farm Milk House and Dairy Barn

Advocating for the preservation of two historic family farms in Gaithersburg by educating city officials about the pre-Revolutionary War history of the properties and families, and working with them to review policies on evaluating historic building complexes.

Economic Analysis

Assisting the City of Rockville with an economic analysis of the costs of restoring a historically designated home, as opposed to demolition.

Conferences on Tear-Downs and Mansionization

Working on context-appropriate infill design by hosting two conferences on tear-downs and mansionization, assisting in the creation of draft Neighborhood Conservation District legislation to help neighborhoods manage local infill development, which has been forwarded to County Council members, and monitoring the deliberations of the Infill Development Task Force, the latest in a decade-long County effort to come up with effective infill solutions.

Protection of a Champion Tree

Spearheading the successful effort to protect a Champion weeping cherry tree. By providing financial assistance to neighbors and negotiating a tree protection plan with the owner, this project led the County Council to pass a bill requiring specific protection for all County Champion trees during any construction.

Support for the Silver Spring Historical Society

Supporting a local preservation organization to preserve two significant 20th Century landmarks: the Falklands Chase apartments and the Perpetual Building in Silver Spring. Part of the Falklands Chase apartment complex will be redeveloped as reported in the The Gazette.

Protecting Historic Sites

Confronting the City of Gaithersburg for ignoring established historic site protection procedures and the requirements of the City Code in development procedures.

The Wayne M. Goldstein Preservation Action Fund

Wayne Goldstein
Wayne M. Goldstein
November 8, 1952 - April 27, 2009 Establishing the Wayne M. Goldstein Preservation Action Fund to support historic preservation research and designation in the County.