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Sharpsburg endorses Civil War Heritage Area

April 05, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

SHARPSBURG - After months of delays and 90 minutes of discussion on Monday night, Sharpsburg Town Council members voted 5-1 to endorse an application for a proposed Civil War Heritage Area.

The council approved the resolution for endorsement, stipulating that the town have representation in the development of a management plan for the heritage area.

Council members said if they don't like the final plan, they will bow out of the program.

Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties are applying to the state to be recognized as a Civil War Heritage Area.

The recognition would make towns in those areas eligible for tourism and financial benefits and the entire heritage areas would be eligible for state grants, loans and income tax credits, according to the proposal.

Under the proposal, most of southern Washington County and all municipalities in the county would be included in the heritage area.

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Town officials had put off voting on the endorsement because they were concerned it would encourage more tourism and development in and around the town, which they are trying to preserve.

Washington County Planning Director Bob Arch said growth management and the heritage area are two different things. Growth management would be addressed through updating the county's comprehensive plan.

Creating a heritage area would promote heritage-related tourism through economic development and preservation projects, such as remodeling a bed and breakfast or the old train station, Arch said.

The heritage areas also could serve as conduits for the state to distribute specialized funding, such as millennium project funds, Arch said.

Council members took advantage of Monday night's meeting with Arch to air frustrations about not being better informed and invited to the heritage area's meetings.

Arch said the town would be informed of future meetings once the heritage area hires a consultant to create the management plan.

The council approved the endorsement after being encouraged to do so by Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent John Howard, Town Attorney Charles Wagaman and Mayor George Kesler.

All three said they didn't want the town to be on the outside looking in with no voice.

Councilman Ralph Hammond cast the sole dissenting vote.

Vice Mayor Sidney Gale and council members Russ Weaver, Denise Troxell, Hal Spielman and Patti Hammond approved the endorsement.

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