Historic District Commissioner Creates Reference Manual

BERLIN – A new reference manual is expected to help members of the town’s historic district commission make decisions.

The Berlin Historic District Commission (HDC) held a work session last week to consider a reference manual developed by Robert Poli, vice chairman of the commission.

“Its intent is to simplify and make more objective our decisions,” Poli said.

Poli told commission members he’d developed the manual of historic information after reviewing those that were used in other jurisdictions. The majority of those he reviewed, he explained, were based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

“I don’t feel we should rewrite a set of guidelines,” he said.

Poli said he’d compiled information on each of the town’s historic properties that was already on file with the Maryland Historical Trust and had then gathered relevant historic preservation information and compiled it to create what he referred to as a reference manual.

“There is no reason to rewrite any of these standards,” he said. “It’s all out there for us to use.”

Within the original 300-acre tract of land that made up Berlin, Poli said the Maryland Historical Trust recognized 95 historic properties. More than 80 of those are within the town’s historic district and thus under the oversight of the HDC. By providing each commission member with information about the properties being discussed each month, Poli believes they’ll be better prepared to make a decision regarding any changes a property owner wants to make.

“It would be more practical to have a history of the property readily available,” he said.

If the HDC moves ahead with adopting the manual he’s created, Poli envisions that each month, as HDC members receive applications from property owners, they’ll be able to look at the property’s historic data and then review the relevant chapter of preservation information.

“The more information we have the more objective we can be,” Poli said.

His peers praised his efforts and thanked him for taking the time to put the information together.

“This is great,” HDC member Mary Moore said. “You’ve done a lot of work.”

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.