Historic District Commission Plans ‘Reference Manual’ Review

BERLIN – The Berlin Historic District Commission (HDC) is expected to review a potential set of guidelines this winter.

At a meeting last week, HDC member Robert Poli told his peers he’d spent the past year or so drafting a set of guidelines he thought would help committee members as they considered changes to properties within the town’s historic district. The commission agreed to schedule a work session this winter to review the document.

“It’s a reference manual,” Poli said. “It’s not here to change any code.”

Poli explained that when he’d first joined the commission, he’d been forwarded historic district guidelines that were in place in other municipalities. He also reviewed information issued by the Maryland Historical Trust, as there were more than 80 designated historic sites within the town’s historic district.

Poli said he went on to spend about 50 hours compiling the information he’d gathered into a 17-chapter reference manual.

“It makes it easier for us to access the information,” he said.

He said one chapter cited the town’s most historic properties while other chapters focused on different aspects of architecture. One deals with windows, for example, while another addresses roof design.

Poli said he wanted to share and review the document with other HDC members in a work session. If commission members like the finished product, Poli envisions it being distributed to individuals as they’re appointed to the HDC.

“It’s a nice reference manual,” he said. “It doesn’t change anything we’re doing.”

He said it wouldn’t require any changes to the town code, as it would simply be something HDC members could use as a reference as they considered requests from property owners.

“It’s here to act as a guideline so we can better help the applicants make decisions,” he said.

Norman Bunting, the newest member of the HDC, praised the concept.

“I love the idea,” he said. “Robert did a great job. As a newcomer that’s really helping me. I’d like to see this committee not be feared. I want people to respect this committee and see that we have something we’re going by.”

HDC members agreed to plan a work session for January to discuss the guidelines.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.