Charles County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Added 1-14-2009 by Bill No. 2008-14[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This bill was originally adopted as Art. XXX, §§ 297-497 through 297-510, but was renumbered to fit into the structure of this chapter.
A. 
The preservation of sites, structures, and districts of historical, archeological or architectural significance together with their appurtenances and environmental settings is a public purpose in Charles County.
B. 
It is the further purpose of this article to preserve and enhance the quality of life and to safeguard the historical and cultural heritage of Charles County by preserving sites, structures, or districts which reflect elements of cultural, social, economic, political, archeological, or architectural history; to stabilize and improve property values of such sites, structures, or districts; to strengthen the local economy; to foster civic beauty; and to promote the preservation and appreciation of such sites, structures, and districts for the education and welfare of the residents of Charles County.
This article is adopted pursuant to the provisions of Sections 8.01-8.17 of Article 66b of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as amended.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Said article was repealed by Acts 2012, 426, effective 10-1-2012. See now the Land Use Article, § 8-101 et seq.
For the purpose of the historic area zoning, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them:
ALTERATION
Any exterior change that would affect the historic, archeological, or architectural significance of a designated site or structure, any portion of which is visible or intended to be visible from a public way, including, but not limited to, construction, reconstruction, moving, or demolition.
APPURTENANCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL SETTINGS
All the area of the grounds and structures thereon which surrounds a historic site or structure and to which it relates physically or visually. Appurtenances and environmental settings may include, but not be limited to, walkways and driveways (whether paved or not), trees, landscaping, pastures and crop lands.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL
A certificate issued by the Historic Preservation Commission indicating its approval of plans for construction, alteration, reconstruction, moving, or demolition of an individually designated historic site or structure or of a site or structure within a designated historic preservation district.
EXTERIOR FEATURES
The architectural style, design, and general arrangement of the exterior of any historic structure, including the nature and texture of building material, and the type and style of all windows, doors, light fixtures, signs, or similar items found on or related to the exterior of an historic structure.
HISTORIC AREA WORK PERMIT
A permit issued by the Department of Planning and Growth Management upon receiving a certificate of approval from the Commission for all projects that the County conducts, assists, licenses, or permits that affect properties within a designated historic preservation district or individually designated historic sites or structures.
HISTORIC DISTRICT
An area which contains historic of sites, structures, which are significant as a cohesive unit and contribute to the historical, architectural, archeological, or cultural or aesthetic values within Charles County. An historic district shall include all property within its boundaries as defined and designated by the County Commissioners.
MINIMUM MAINTENANCE
Any willful neglect in the maintenance and repair of an individually designated historic site, or structure, or a site or structure within a designated historic preservation district, not including any appurtenances and environmental settings, that does not result from an owner's financial inability to maintain and repair such historic site, or structure, and which results in the deterioration of the foundations, exterior walls, roofs, chimneys, doors, or windows, so as to create or permit a hazardous or unsafe condition to exist.
RECONSTRUCTION
The process of reproducing by new construction the exact form and detail of a vanished structure, or part thereof, on or near the original site as it appeared at a specific period of time.
RESTORATION
The process of accurately recovering the form and details of a property as it appeared at a specific period of time by means of removal of later work and the replacement of work missing from that period.
ROUTINE MAINTENANCE
Work that does not alter the exterior fabric or features of a site or structure and has no material effect on the historical, archaeological, or architectural significance of the site or structure.
SITE
An area which possesses historic, architectural, archeological, or cultural significance to Charles County, the state, or nation.
STRUCTURE
A combination of material to form a construction that is stable, including but not limited to buildings, stadiums, reviewing stands, platforms, stages, observation towers, radio towers, water tanks and towers, trestles, bridges, piers, bulkheads, wharves, sheds, coal bins, shelters, fences, and display signs visible or intended to be visible from a public way. The term "structure" shall be construed as if followed by the words, "or part thereof."
A. 
Historic Preservation Commission. The County hereby creates a commission to be called the "Charles County Historic Preservation Commission."
B. 
Membership. The Historic Preservation Commission shall consist of seven members appointed by the County Commissioners:
(1) 
Members shall be residents of or work in Charles County;
(2) 
Each member shall possess a demonstrated special interest, specific knowledge, or professional or academic training in such fields as history, architecture, architectural history, planning, archeology, anthropology, curation, conservation, landscape architecture, historic preservation, urban design, or related disciplines;
(a) 
The special interest requirement can be satisfied by either formal training in one or more of the fields or active membership in a preservation related organization;
(b) 
The specific knowledge requirement may be satisfied by formal post-secondary education, employment or practical experience in one or more of the above-listed fields;
(c) 
The professional or academic training requirement may be satisfied by, at a minimum, two years' experience as a professional or a Bachelor's degree in one or more of the above-listed fields;
(3) 
At least two members of the Commission shall possess professional or academic training in one or more of the above listed fields in accordance with the minimum professional requirements of the United States Department of the Interior for certifying local governments under 36 CFR Part 61.
(4) 
To satisfy the above membership requirements, one member may be appointed from the Charles County Site Design and Architectural Review Board, two members may be appointed from the Charles County Historical Trust, and one member may be appointed from the building industry, the Charles County Chamber of Commerce, the agricultural industry, historic property renovation, or the citizenry at large. However, if this composition of membership is not possible for any reason, only requirements (1) through (3) above will apply to membership on the Commission.
C. 
Terms. Commission members shall be appointed for terms of three years, except that the terms of the initial appointments shall be staggered so that three members shall serve terms of three years, two members shall serve terms of two years so that no more than three appointments shall expire in a given year. Commission members may be reappointed.
D. 
Commission officers. The Commission shall elect, from its membership, a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson. The Chairperson and Vice Chairperson shall serve for one year terms and shall be eligible for reelection.
E. 
Vacancy. Any vacancy in the membership of the Commission caused by the expiration of a term, resignation, death, incapacity to discharge duties, removal for cause, or any other reason, shall be filled for a new term, or for the remainder of the term for which there is a vacancy, as the case may be, in the same manner as provided herein for the appointment of the initial members of the Commission.
(1) 
Any vacancy on the Commission shall be filled by the Charles County Commissioners within 60 days.
(2) 
In the case of expiration of term, a member may continue to serve until the member's successor is appointed.
(3) 
Unexcused absence at three consecutive meetings shall constitute resignation by the member and shall create a vacancy.
F. 
Removal for cause. A member may be removed from the Commission for cause, upon written charges, by the Charles County Commissioners.
G. 
Compensation. Commission members shall serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the performance of their duties, provided said expenses are permitted by the budget and approved in advance by the Department of Planning and Growth Management.
H. 
Meetings. The Commission shall hold such regular meetings and hearings as necessary to discharge its duties. Any interested person or representative of an interested person may appear and be heard at any public meeting conducted by the Historic Preservation Commission.
I. 
Staff. Consistent with the County's policies and procedures, employees may be assigned to the Commission, and such services and facilities shall be made available as the County deems necessary or appropriate for the proper performance of its duties.
A. 
The Historic Preservation Commission shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) 
Direct studies, reports, and surveys to identify historical, archeological, or architecturally significant sites, structures, and districts that exemplify the cultural, social, economic, political, or architectural history of the County, state, or nation;
(2) 
Accept and use gifts for the exercise of its functions, consistent with the County's charter, ordinances, resolutions, local public law, policies and procedures regarding the acceptance and use of gifts by public officials;
(3) 
Prescribe appropriate rules and regulations for transaction of its business;
(4) 
Accept and review applications for designation of local historic sites and districts, and forward recommendations to the Planning Commission for its review and recommendation to the County Commissioners;
(5) 
Review and process applications for certificates of approval;
(6) 
Recommend for adoption by the County Commissioners rehabilitation and new construction design guidelines and criteria for construction, alteration, reconstruction, moving, and demolition of designated historic sites, structures, and districts which are consistent with the Secretary of the Interior's standards for the treatment of historic properties (36 CFR Part 68). Guidelines may include design characteristics intended to meet the needs of particular types of sites, structures, and districts, and may identify categories of changes that, because they are minimal in nature, do not affect historic, archeological, or architectural significance, do not require review by the Commission. These guidelines shall be used in the Commission's review of applications;
(7) 
Purchase or accept historic preservation easements on designated historic structures or sites and, when deemed appropriate by the Commission, sites or structures located in, or adjacent to, a designated historic district, consistent with the County's Charter, ordinances, resolutions, local public law, policies and procedures governing the acquisition of easements;
(8) 
Make recommendations to the Department of Planning and Growth Management and to the Planning Commission, as appropriate, on the course of action in the event of demolition, preliminary subdivision plan review or site development of land containing a local historic site, structure, or district as it relates to its preservation or commemoration;
(9) 
Adopt rules to implement and administer a local historic tax credit program. The Commission shall adopt rules to implement the historic tax credit program under Chapters 281 and 297 of the County Code;
(10) 
Approve historic tax credits. As specified in Chapters 297 and 281 of the County Code, the Commission may determine whether a historic structure is eligible for a historic tax credit and approve an application for a historic tax credit; and
(11) 
Undertake any other action or activity necessary or appropriate to the implementation of its powers and duties or the implementation of the purpose of this article.
B. 
The Historic Preservation Commission may request that the enforcing authority institute any of the remedies and penalties provided by law for any violation of an ordinance or resolution adopted under this article.
The County Commissioners of Charles County may designate boundaries for sites, structures, or districts of historic, archeological, or architectural significance consistent with adopted criteria for such designation according to the procedures outlined in this article.
A. 
Designation procedure. Upon application, the Historic Preservation Commission, after making a full and proper study, recommends any area within the limits of the County for designation as a site, structure, or district of historic, archeological, or architectural significance. The Commission may also recommend boundaries for such sites, structures or districts. The recommendations shall be submitted to the Planning Commission for their review and forwarded to the County Commissioners for approval or disapproval.
B. 
Criteria for designation. The following criteria are to be considered when making a determination to designate as historic a site, structure, or district. Any application that is deemed by the Historic Preservation Commission not to meet the criteria for designation does not need to be forwarded to the Planning Commission for further consideration.
(1) 
National Register of Historic Places. The site, structure or district under consideration must meet the criteria necessary to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places; and
(2) 
Historical and cultural significance. The historic site, structure or district under consideration:
(a) 
Has character, interest, or value as part of the development, heritage, or culture of the County, state or nation;
(b) 
Is associated with events important to the past;
(c) 
Is associated with persons important in the past; or
(d) 
Has the potential to provide important information about history or prehistory.
(3) 
Architectural and design significance. The historic site, structure or district under consideration:
(a) 
Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction;
(b) 
Represents the work of a master;
(c) 
Possesses high artistic values; or
(d) 
Represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.
C. 
Designation of an historic site or structure shall not result in the loss of otherwise buildable lots at the time of preliminary subdivision.
(1) 
To ensure that the otherwise permissible density may be achieved the Planning Commission may:
(a) 
Approve an adjustment to the minimum lot size;
(b) 
Grant one transferable development right for each otherwise buildable lot;
(c) 
Approve the use of open space within the boundaries of the historic site, structure, or district; or
(d) 
Recommend the purchase or acceptance of a conservation easement on portions of the property or on otherwise buildable lots.
(2) 
This provision shall not be interpreted or used as a means to recover base density that may be lost due to the application of other requirements during the normal subdivision review process.
D. 
Application form for historic designation.
(1) 
The Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties form or the National Register of Historic Places nomination forms shall serve as the application form for evaluation of historic, archaeological, and architectural significance.
(2) 
Applications should document how the site, structure, or district meets the criteria for evaluation and should include slides, photographs, orientation map, site plan and, if relevant, drawings.
(3) 
Applications for creation of a historic district or a historic site shall include a map showing proposed boundaries, an accurate description of those boundaries, and a statement of justification for the proposed boundaries.
(4) 
It is the responsibility of the applicant to present completed materials for a district and evidence of support by the owners of a majority of the properties in the proposed district, unless review is initiated by Historic Preservation Commission action.
(5) 
For individual sites or structures, it is the responsibility of the applicant to present evidence that the owner of the site or structure consents to the historic designation, if the applicant is not the owner of record of the site or structure.
E. 
Public meeting. Applications for designation shall be evaluated at regular public meetings of the Historic Preservation Commission, upon proper notification of the owner, applicant and interested parties. The public meeting shall be held within 45 days of application submission. Any public meetings may be adjourned to a specified time and place that is announced or posted at the public meeting. Any interested person or representative of an interested person may appear and be heard at any public meeting conducted by the Historic Preservation Commission. Subsequent public hearings will be held within 45 days of the close of the open public record.
F. 
Notice. At least two weeks prior to the scheduled public meeting, the Historic Preservation Commission shall send written notice of the date, time, and place of the meeting to the owner(s) of the historic site, structure or structure within a district and to those agencies, organizations, and citizens that the Commission feels may have an interest in the proceedings.
G. 
Designation removal. Should a historic site, structure or district no longer meet the above criteria, the designation may be removed by legislative action of the County Commissioners after receipt of a recommendation from the Historic Preservation Commission. Should a local historic site, structure or site or structure within a local historic district have received County-authorized or -administered preservation grants, loans or special property tax incentives, the County Commissioners may require that those funds received through grants, loans or tax incentives be reimbursed in full to the County prior to the site being removed from local historic site, structure or district designation.
A. 
Application for certificates of approval.
(1) 
Prior to the construction, alteration, reconstruction, moving or demolition affecting the exterior of a designated site or structure or a site or structure within a designated district, the person, individual, firm, or corporation proposing to make the change shall file an application for a certificate of approval for permission to construct, alter, reconstruct, move, or demolish the site, or structure.
(2) 
The scope of this subsection is limited to such a proposed construction, alteration, reconstruction, moving or demolition:
(a) 
Where the proposed exterior change affect the historic, archaeological or architectural significance of the designated site or structure or the site or structure within a designated district; and
(b) 
Where any portion of the proposed change is visible or is intended to be visible from a public way.
(3) 
Every application shall be referred to and considered by the Commission at a public meeting for acceptance or rejection.
(4) 
An application which is identical to a rejected application may not be resubmitted within a period of one year after the rejection.
(5) 
No certificate of approval shall be granted until the Commission has acted thereon as hereinafter provided.
B. 
Application review.
(1) 
In reviewing applications, the Historic Preservation Commission shall give consideration to:
(a) 
The historic, archeological, or architectural significance of the historic site, or structure and the relationship of the exterior architectural features of a site or structure to the remainder of the site or structure and to the surrounding area;
(b) 
The general compatibility of the proposed exterior design, scale, proportion, arrangement, texture, and materials to the site, structure or designated district, if applicable, and to the surrounding area; and
(c) 
Any other factors which the Commission deems to be pertinent.
(2) 
The Commission shall consider only exterior features of a site or structure and shall not consider any interior arrangements or features.
(3) 
The Commission shall not disapprove an application except with respect to the several factors specified in Subsection B(1) above.
(4) 
The Historic Preservation Commission shall strictly judge plans for sites or structures determined by research to be of historic, archeological, or architectural significance. Unless the plans would seriously impair the historic, archeological, or architectural significance of the surrounding site or structure, the Historic Preservation Commission may not strictly judge plans for a site or structure of little historic, archeological, or architectural significance; or involving new construction. The Historic Preservation Commission is not required to limit construction, reconstruction, or alteration to the architectural style of any one period.
(a) 
If an application is submitted for construction, reconstruction, or alteration affecting a site or the exterior of a structure or for the moving or demolition of a structure, the preservation of which the Commission considers to be of unusual importance to Charles County or of unusual importance to the state or nation, the Commission shall attempt to formulate an economically feasible plan with the owner(s) of the site or structure for the preservation of the site or structure. Unless the Commission is satisfied that the proposed construction, alteration, or reconstruction will not materially impair the historic, archeological, or architectural significance of the site or structure, the Commission shall reject the application, filing a copy of its rejection with the Department of Planning and Growth Management.
(b) 
If an application is submitted for construction, reconstruction, or alteration, or for the moving or demolition of a site or structure that the Commission considers to be of unusual importance and no economically feasible plan can be formulated, the Commission shall have 90 days, from the time it concludes that no economically feasible plan can be formulated, to negotiate with the owner and other parties in an effort to find a means of preserving the site or structure. In the case of a site or structure considered to be valuable for its historic, archeological, or architectural significance, the Commission may approve the proposed construction, reconstruction, alteration, moving, or demolition despite the provisions of this section if:
[1] 
The site or structure is a deterrent to a major improvement program which will be of substantial benefit to Charles County;
[2] 
Retention of the site or structure would cause undue financial hardship to the owner; or
[3] 
Retention of the site or structure would not be in the best interests of a majority of persons in Charles County.
(c) 
Commission decision. The Commission shall file with the Department of Planning and Growth Management a certificate of approval certifying its approval, modification, or rejection of each application and plans submitted to it for review. Work shall not be commenced on any project until such a certificate of approval has been filed and the Department of Planning and Growth Management shall not issue a historic area work permit or building permit for such change or construction unless it has received such a certificate of approval. The failure of the Commission to act upon a completed application within 45 days from the date the completed application was filed shall be deemed to constitute automatic approval of the proposed changes unless an extension of this forty-five-day period is agreed upon mutually by the applicant and the Commission or the application has been withdrawn.
(5) 
Upon failure, neglect, or refusal of the property owner or other responsible party to obtain a certificate of approval, the Commission may request that the Department of Planning and Growth Management institute any of the remedies and penalties provided by law for such violations as outlined in Article I of the Charles County Zoning Ordinance.
A. 
Alterations to sites, structures and environmental settings. Staff shall be authorized to issue certificates of approval for alterations to sites, structures and environmental setting that will not significantly change the exterior features of a historic site or contributing structure within an historic district or its environmental setting and that will have no significant effect on its historical, architectural, cultural, or archeological value. Certificates of approval decisions will comply with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, where applicable. The above category shall be determined by the Historic Preservation Commission and outlined in the adopted rules of procedures.
B. 
General policies. The Commission may, if it so chooses, review all certificates of approvals administered by staff at the next meeting. Property owners shall retain a right of appeal to the Commission from staff sign-off, as will property owners within the area of notification. Staff shall refer an application to the Commission if any uncertainty exists as to whether the application meets the criteria for issuing a certificate of approval.
Nothing in this article shall be taken or construed to prevent:
A. 
Maintenance that does not alter the exterior fabric or features of a designated historic site, structure or a site or structure within a historic district;
B. 
Customary farming operations; or
C. 
Landscaping which will have no material effect on the historic, archeological, or architectural significance of a designated historic site, structure, or a site or structure within a historic district.
Protective maintenance of historic sites, structures or sites and structures within districts shall be maintained to meet the minimum requirements of the Charles County building codes.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 224, Building Construction.
The Commission may designate the Maryland Historical Trust to make an analysis of and report recommending the preservation of sites, structures, or districts of historic, archeological, architectural, or cultural significance within Charles County. The report may include proposed boundaries of sites, structures, or districts, as well as recommendations for the identification and designation of particular sites, structures, or districts to be preserved.
In the event that any party is aggrieved by a decision of the Commission, the party has the right of appeal to the Board of Appeals. Appeals must be filed within the time provided in the rules of the Board.
The provisions of this article are severable. If any provision of this article is held unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, the decision of the court does not affect or impair any of the remaining provisions.
This article shall not apply to any applications for Zoning Map amendment, special exception, preliminary subdivision plan, final subdivision plat or site plan approval that are initially filed before the effective date.