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Panel hopes to save other historic sites

April 13, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

With the loss of the historic Kammerer house, Fox Deceived plantation home and the Hagerstown Roundhouse fresh in their minds, members of the Washington County Historic Advisory Committee sponsored a forum to educate the public about the financial benefits of preservation on Tuesday.

Despite the losses, committee chairman Yvonne Hope said the community must move on and work to save other historic structures.

"We need to take all that angst and energy and devote it into 'What we can do so this won't happen again,'" she said.

About 75 people heard from local, state and federal historic preservation officials about grants, loans and tax rebate programs available.

Steven Goodrich of the Washington County Planning Office said the fate of historic preservation in the county lies in the public's hands.

"It's what is acceptable to the community. You can have nothing or the most stringent regulations," he said.

He said the county offers a 5 percent or 10 percent tax credit for select homeowners for money they spend on rehabilitation or preservation of their property.

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The work must meet established guidelines and maintenance is not applicable, he said. The properties must be in a historic preservation zone or the Antietam Overlay zone to qualify, he said.

These credits apply to property taxes and can be allowed to accumulate for up to five years, he said. The credit is available in municipalities with historic preservation commissions and set guidelines.

Hagerstown City Planner Kathy Maher, said the city offers up to $1,000 in matching grants for facade and commercial work on businesses.

Other loans and grants are available to property owners from the National Historic Trust for Historic Preservation, said Lisa M. Burcham, senior program associate.

She said the National Preservation Loan Fund provides below-market rate loans of up to $150,000 to nonprofit organizations and public agencies to help preserve properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

An Inner-City Ventures Fund provides the same amount to nonprofit community organizations for specific projects and $200,000 in funds to revitalize historic neighborhoods for the benefit of low- or moderate-income residents, she said.

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