Excerpt from the Frederick News-Post:

Owners of historic properties in Frederick may soon have someone to help guide them through the renovation process, if the city adds a position requested by its staff.

Adding an architectural inspector to the city’s Engineering Department would help improve the application and review process in Frederick’s historic preservation overlay areas, Deputy Director of Public Works Tracy Coleman told the mayor and aldermen Tuesday night at a public hearing on the proposed budget at City Hall.

The mayor and aldermen are scheduled to approve the final budget on May 18 at 7 p.m.

The city doesn’t have anyone solely dedicated to inspecting the architectural features required by the Historic Preservation Commission or Planning Commission during construction or renovation projects, Coleman wrote in an email Wednesday.

Adding the position will help people who are building or making renovations in the overlay areas, Coleman said.

The historic preservation overlay allows the city to regulate the repair or rehabilitation of the exterior of properties that have been designated as historic.

Inspections during projects are currently done by the city’s two building inspectors, and historic overlay enforcement is done by code enforcement inspectors, Coleman wrote. But both of those offices have other duties and responsibilities.

In addition to inspections of architectural features required by the Historic Preservation Commission or Planning Commission, this person would act as a permits coordinator to guide applicants through the process when changes occur during construction or renovation.

The position would involve a salary and benefits of nearly $65,000 along with $32,000 in equipment, including a vehicle.

Alderman Donna Kuzemchak questioned whether the position would concentrate on proactive enforcement or be more of an ombudsman to help guide people through the process.

When people don’t do things the right way, it’s often because they don’t feel like it, Kuzemchak said.

The position would provide someone to help shepherd property owners through the application process of the historic preservation overlay, Coleman said.

Alderman Michael O’Connor said he supported the general idea of improving the process. But he wanted to know how the city would quantify the success of adding the position and how they would know if the city has gotten its money’s worth.

Councilman Josh Bokee said they would need some specific ways to measure the progress of adding the position, while Councilman Phil Dacey said he would have to be able to see some tangible benefit to adding the position.

Dacey also questioned whether it was appropriate to ask the whole city to fund a position that would really benefit only the downtown area and people in the historic district.

Kuzemchak said she thought the change would benefit the whole city rather than just the downtown area by helping businesses.

“In my mind, this is economic development,” she said.