His­toric preser­va­tion: Pro­tect­ing our past

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

From the re­gion’s first Amer­i­can In­dian in­hab­i­tants at least 12,000 years ago to the es­tab­lish­ment of Naval Sup­port Fa­cil­ity In­dian Head in the late 19th cen­tury, our county’s his­tory re­flects South­ern Mary­land’s diver­sity and con­ti­nu­ity of life. Charles County’s his­toric sites, dis­tricts, land­scapes and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­sources uniquely re­flect its past. These his­toric lo­ca­tions al­low you to step back in his­tory, and of­fer more rea­sons you can be proud to call Charles County home.

The His­toric Preser­va­tion Pro­gram works to re­store and re­vi­tal­ize county his­toric sites and com­mu­ni­ties in­clud­ing Rich Hill Farm­house, the Port Tobacco His­toric District, and the vil­lage of Bene­dict. The De­part­ment of Plan­ning and Growth Man­age­ment staff works closely with state and lo­cal part­ners, and other county gov­ern­ment de­part­ments to co­or­di­nate a di­verse range of projects. Each site and com­mu­nity is unique, and de­signed to re­flect the com­mu­nity’s char­ac­ter. Projects in­clude com­mu­nity en­hance­ments, strate­gic land ac­qui­si­tions, ar­chae­o­log­i­cal and ar­chi­tec­tural re­search and com­mu­nity out­reach.

One of the newest ini­tia­tives of the His­toric Preser­va­tion Pro­gram is pro­mot­ing state in­come tax cred­its avail­able to home and busi­ness own­ers for el­i­gi­ble re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ex­penses. Own­ers of prop­er­ties listed on or el­i­gi­ble for the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places have the op­por­tu­nity to earn a state in­come tax credit equal to 20 per­cent of qual­i­fied re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ex­pen­di­tures. The credit is capped at $50,000 in a 24-month pe­riod, and must have a min­i­mum of $5,000 of el­i­gi­ble ex­penses to qual­ify.

An­other com­po­nent of pre­serv­ing and pro­tect­ing our county’s his­tory is the work of the His­toric Preser­va­tion Commission. The Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers es­tab­lished the His­toric Preser­va­tion Commission in 2009. The commission re­views devel­op­ment plans for im­pacts to cul­tural re­sources, rec­om­mends prop­er­ties for lo­cal his­toric land­mark des­ig­na­tion, re­views ex­te­rior changes to lo­cal land­marks, and sup­ports doc­u­men­ta­tion of county his­toric re­sources.

In or­der to keep you up-to-date with their cur­rent work, the commission pub­lishes an an­nual “Preser­va­tion Mat­ters” mag­a­zine. The pub­li­ca­tion high­lights im­por­tant his­toric preser­va­tion ini­tia­tives through­out the year, in­clud­ing re­search and doc­u­men­ta­tion, restora­tion, and com­mu­nity out­reach. The third edi­tion of “Preser­va­tion Mat­ters” will be avail­able in late sum­mer/early fall and fea­ture ar­ti­cles on the John Grinder House at Small­wood State Park, Mt. Aven­tine and an up­date on Rich Hill. The mag­a­zine is avail­able on­line at www.CharlesCoun­tyMD.gov/PGM/Plan­ning/His­toric-Preser­va­tion-News­let­ter.

The commission is hold­ing its an­nual Preser­va­tion Awards Cer­e­mony on Thurs­day, May 18, from 6-8 p.m. at Small­wood State Park to an­nounce 2017 Preser­va­tion Award re­cip­i­ents. Preser­va­tion awards are pre­sented in two cat­e­gories. The Preser­va­tion Project Award rec­og­nizes ex­cel­lence in the preser­va­tion and restora­tion of his­toric build­ings and adap­tive re­use of his­toric struc­tures. The Preser­va­tion Ser­vice Award rec­og­nizes out­stand­ing achieve­ment in and sup­port for fur­ther­ing the aims of his­toric preser­va­tion in Charles County, in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, re­search, devel­op­ment, plan­ning, ad­vo­cacy and com­mu­nity lead­er­ship. Pub­lic is in­vited to at­tend.

To learn more about the county’s his­toric preser­va­tion ef­forts, go to www.CharlesCoun­tyMD.gov/PGM/ Plan­ning/His­toric-Preser­va­tion. Steve Kaii-Ziegler is the Charles County Di­rec­tor of the De­part­ment of Plan­ning and Growth Man­age­ment.

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