Solomons, MD – What is left of Solomons Island’s Locust Inn is no longer considered historic. Acting on a recommendation from the Planning Commission, the Calvert County Commissioners voted 4-0-1 to remove the three-story inn’s Historic District designation. In making the motion to strip the site of its status, Commissioners’ Vice President Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R – District 3] affirmed that the panel that approved the request for Historic District status in 1988 erred in their collective judgement. “A mistake was made,” said Slaughenhoupt, who added the historic character of the structure “was lost” before receiving the designation because of the installation of metal siding and other significant modifications to the property.
Slaughenhoupt also noted that in late April the structure was heavily damaged by a fire. A structural engineer’s report submitted to county officials last month recommended the building be razed. The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office determined the April 23 fire was intentionally set. Three firefighters were injured battling the two-alarm blaze. Damage was estimated at $50,000. The incident remains under investigation and no arrests have been made.
The owners of the property, PAR Limited Partnership had requested the removal of the Historic District designation, a request that was denied by the Calvert County Historic District Commission, which forwarded its recommendation to the commissioners, as required in the county’s Zoning Ordinance. The County Commissioners and Planning Commission held a joint public hearing on PAR Limited Partnership’s request in early April. While the Planning Commission submitted a unanimous recommendation to remove the designation, the County Commissioners opted to wait until they had received a recommendation from staff.
“I didn’t know it was historic,” said Commissioner Pat Nutter [R – District 2]. “It just looked like an old house.” Nutter indicated he was surprised that the property owners were not compelled to adhere to the rules of Historic District properties. “Somewhere along the line the ball was dropped,” said Nutter.
Department of Planning and Zoning Director Mark Willis told the commissioners that going forward, county government staff is looking to establish a cycle of inspection routine for historic properties. The department’s Historic Preservation planner, Kirsti Uunila will be in charge of drafting that procedure for the board’s approval. When asked by Commissioners’ President Tom Hejl [R – At large] why there isn’t a procedure in place now, Uunila stated, “there is something in place.” She pointed out that members of the volunteer commission have a five-year inspection schedule. A new inspection proposal is expected to be submitted to the County Commissioners this fall.
Contact Marty Madden at email@example.com