Jack Lynch makes a quasi-compelling case in his June 8 letter to the editor, “Downtown hotel should require state historic approval.” However, he leaves out several important things that make his argument misleading.
First, the Maryland Historical Trust review is not an “approval.” It is a consultative process — in the words of the trust, it “does not proscribe an outcome.” It is an advisory opinion, not an approval. Second, contrary to his claim, the project did begin Maryland Historical Trust review (MHT 201502930). Third, a draft memorandum of understanding was developed between the city of Frederick, Plamondon, the Maryland Historical Trust, and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. The MOU required a Phase III archaeological investigation, documentation of the findings, a public interpretation program with educational programs, interactive displays, historic artifacts and brochures, displaying photographs of the city’s industrial history, salvaging a stone retaining wall, public art to celebrate Frederick’s history, requiring Historic Preservation Commission approval of all construction, and developing mitigation plans (https://tinyurl.com/yy3w8y5n).
Fourth, the Maryland Historical Trust itself pulled out of its review of the project (by order of the governor?). Yes, they stopped their review! Neither the city nor Plamondon halted the review. Fifth, both the city and Plamondon have said they will continue the mitigation efforts proposed in the draft MOU. Sixth, the city HPC has had many meetings reviewing the project and requiring substantial changes to the construction. These are required — unlike the trust’s review, which is just an advisory opinion — not an approval, as Lynch claims. Furthermore, Lynch is very dismissive of the city HPC review and requirements, saying that they are “local courtesy approval.” This a disturbing comment (to say the least) by someone that claims to be an historic preservationist.
Maybe Lynch should call the trust and order them to continue their review rather than bellyaching. Again, the Maryland Historical Trust review is a consultative process. It does not approve the project.