Agreement on farmstead property at Hagerstown Regional Airport hits snag

December 01, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • The Brumbaugh-Kendle-Grove Farmstead on the grounds of Hagerstown Regional Airport is seen in this Sept. 25, 2005, file photo.
File photo

HAGERSTOWN — A long-awaited agreement about the future of a historic farmstead on Hagerstown Regional Airport property hit another obstacle Tuesday.

After more than two years of negotiation, the Federal Aviation Administration has signed off on a document outlining preferable ways of reusing the historic farmhouse, barn and outbuildings known as the Brumbaugh-Kendle-Grove Farmstead.

But when Airport Director Carolyn Motz asked the Washington County Commissioners to sign the agreement, they decided to seek feedback from county historic preservation groups first.

The Maryland Historical Trust, which is to be the third signatory to the memorandum of agreement, supports the document in its current form, Motz said.

She said she thought the historical trust had circulated drafts to local historic preservation groups, but representatives of the Washington County Historic District Commission, Washington County Historical Trust and Washington County Historical Society said Tuesday they had not seen the latest draft and had unanswered questions about it.

“I was fine with the document until I heard our county residents weren’t involved,” Commissioner William J. Wivell said. “That, to me, is very disappointing. I’m not sure I can vote on it today.”

Commissioner Terry Baker also wanted to wait to hear the local groups’ feedback, while Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire objected to the agreement for other reasons.

Meanwhile, James F. Kercheval, in his final meeting as a commissioner, argued in favor of moving forward anyway, in the interest of passing the agreement before a new board takes office.

“I wanted to see this thing resolved completely in a couple years,” he said. “We couldn’t even get the (procedural agreement) in 2 1/2 (years), which is a reflection of the bureaucracy involved in dealing with this kind of stuff.”

Kercheval said he thought it was detrimental to both economic development and historic preservation “when you have to take 2 1/2 years to come up with a three-page, four-page paper.”

The draft agreement calls for a working group to develop a marketing plan and request proposals for adaptive reuse of the buildings, with first preference given to finding an aviation-related use for the buildings at their current location.

The second choice would be to relocate the buildings elsewhere on airport property for adaptive reuse, and third choice would be to relocate them off of airport property for adaptive reuse.

The farmstead is on land purchased by the airport at least 10 years ago in preparation for its now-completed runway extension project. The buildings date from the 18th and 19th centuries and were deemed historically significant as an example of local farm architecture in a 2001 survey initiated by the historical trust.

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