Record Observer - - Opinion -

The sched­uled de­struc­tion of the 102-year-old elec­tric gen­er­a­tor build­ing [in Centreville] was protested last Tues­day in front of the town Board of Zon­ing Ap­peals by cit­i­zens who fear the loss of the town’s his­toric char­ac­ter.

Although many thought the build­ing should be saved, oth­ers, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the town coun­cil, urged that the build­ing be de­stroyed.

Va­cant for over 30 years, the build­ing be­came the sub­ject of much de­bate when a busi­ness­man of­fered to buy it in 1988. The man with­drew his of­fer in March 1990 af­ter com­pli­ca­tions with deed re­stric­tions and cit­i­zen com­plaints.

• • • A Wed­nes­day night meet­ing be­tween the Centreville Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion and about 30 cit­i­zens brought the town one step closer to ful­fill­ing rec­om­men­da­tions made in its Com­pre­hen­sive Plan al­most three years ago that it draft and adopt a his­toric district preser va­tion or­di­nance.

That step, how­ever, was only the be­gin­ning of what could be a long, dif­fi­cult jour­ney, warned El­iz­a­beth Brice, plan­ning com­mis­sion chair­woman. In or­der to adopt and en­force such an or­di­nance, Brice told the group, a great deal of com­mit­ment would be needed from the cit­i­zens.

Be­fore an or­di­nance could be drawn, the idea would have to be stud­ied by a cit­i­zens’ com­mit­tee.

• • • Ev­ery­thing from the slow econ­omy to the gov­er­nor is be­ing blamed for the in­creas­ing num­ber of va­cant stores along Route 50 on Kent Is­land.

In a rough sur­vey of eight re­tail shop­ping cen­ters and out­let malls be­tween the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Bridge and Kent Nar­rows Bridge, 23 per­cent of the 139 stores are empty. Busi­ness of­fices lo­cated in the shop­ping cen­ters were also in­cluded in the sur­vey.

Com­mer­cial real es­tate agents blame the econ­omy, but re­tail store own­ers and man­agers say other fac­tors such as ex­pen­sive rent, over­build­ing and road con­struc­tion also play a role.

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