Excerpt from the Frederick News-Post:

The Frederick Historic Preservation Commission is clarifying design guidelines for properties in the city’s historic district, and members want residents to remain as informed as possible during the process.

“We have pushed and we will continue to push to have something much clearer, so when people move into the historic district, they know what it means,” said Stephen Parnes, vice chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission, on Tuesday to residents of Neighborhood Advisory Council 11.

Parnes said he believes a discrepancy exists between those who implement and govern the rules and guidelines for making changes to properties in the district and the community. He attributes that discrepancy to lack of communication.

At the end of the year, with a potentially new administration taking office, Parnes believes it will be a good time to update and clarify the guidelines. The guidelines, he said, have not been looked at recently and copies are not readily available.

“There are new technologies and new building materials that we all realize we need to look at and address,” he said. “There are new issues. We are very cognizant of that.”

Parnes expects the process to address the guidelines to be public, and residents will have opportunities to listen and weigh in at various public hearings and other venues.

Parnes also said he empathizes with NAC 11 residents, who all live in the downtown historic district, because he said the application processes they have to go through to make changes or updates to their homes “can be onerous.” He said the reasons for those processes are to ensure the historic integrity of the neighborhood is preserved and protected and he believes most property owners understand that.

In fact, he used to be one of them, he said.

Before Parnes became a member of the Historic Preservation Commission about six years ago, he was cited for a violation at his own home in the district. From there, he became interested in the process and today spends his time helping others address issues and make changes to their own properties.

Parnes and Scott Winnette, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission — who also attended Tuesday’s NAC 11 meeting — have also made efforts recently to help improve that process by meeting with Mayor Randy McClement and going over some of the efforts of other departments. Parnes said that meeting went well and he hopes to eventually have a public meeting with the mayor and aldermen and maybe some city department heads to go over all the information and better address historic preservation efforts in the city.

Julia Ferguson, a NAC 11 resident, echoed Parnes’ comments. She said she recommends residents attend Historic Preservation Commission workshops and hearings, especially if they are contemplating work to their homes. She said it is a great way to research how things are done.

Parnes also stayed after and addressed comments and concerns from residents Tuesday. While he cannot discuss many pending cases, he said he does what he can to help people understand the processes and rules.