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Historic buildings near Hagerstown Regional Airport could be moved

August 05, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A cluster of historic farm buildings near Hagerstown Regional Airport could be moved with the help of federal grant money.

Airport officials and the Airport Advisory Commission have asked the county to use some of the federal funding from the runway extension project to move the structures, known as the Brumbaugh-Kendle-Grove farmstead.

The Washington County Commissioners will discuss the matter Tuesday.

The structures near the intersection of U.S. 11 and Air View Road have stalled efforts to clear land around the airport.

The vacant buildings, which are less than 500 feet from the airport's new 7,000-foot runway, pose a threat to airport security, federal officials have said.

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The Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Secret Service all want the buildings to be removed or demolished, but historic preservation laws have prevented that from happening.

The farmstead, which includes a late 19th-century brick house, an 18th-century smokehouse and a rare pierced-brick barn, was given historical designation in 2001.

Federal laws require governments to try to avoid, reduce or mitigate damage to historic properties near development sites.

Historic preservation advocates in Washington County have recommended several options that would keep the structures intact, such as allowing someone to live in the house or using it for a museum.

Federal officials are opposed to those options, however, because they would hinder development on the land.

Federal grants for the runway extension project included money to demolish and remove the farm buildings. County officials said that money might be available instead to help move the structures.

Washington County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said the county has asked the federal government for permission to use some of the money for relocation instead of demolition.

Murray said it is unclear at this point how much money would be available.

The county would have to get a contractor's assessment of the estimated demolition costs, which would have to be approved by the federal government.

The county would not be able to spend more on relocation or rehabilitation than is allowed for demolition, Murray said.

The County Commissioners also would have to approve any use of the grant funds.

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