“Discussion of the city’s historic preservation efforts typically centers around the historic buildings themselves. At last week’s Historic Preservation Commission meeting, however, it was the landscaping, specifically trees, that took center stage.
Roughly a dozen neighbors and longtime residents flooded city hall to protest owner James Roembke’s application to demolish five Hawthorn trees on his recently-purchased Record Street property, the former C. Burr Artz Library. Its significance as part of the Frederick Towne Historic District and former home to the city’s library require the HPC to approve any exterior changes planned on the property.
Roembke apologized for cutting down the boxwoods, attempting to reassure concerned neighbors by detailing his plan to plant eight new trees along the street-facing sides of the property. But his efforts did little to mitigate the anger and disappointment of protestors. One woman questioned if his plan was actually going to happen, or simply his way to “make us sit back down.”
Commissioners grappled with the relative lack of guidelines on landscaping aspects of historic preservation. And though Commissioner Carrie Albee said she was “very disturbed” about the boxwoods that were cut down, the commission ultimately approved the demo request for the dogwoods by a 3-1 vote, with Albee opposed.
Roembke must submit a final landscaping design plan for the new plantings no later than December as part of the commission’s approval.