The Montgomery County Council is slated to vote Tuesday on a controversy in the tiny town of Boyds in rural northwest Montgomery County over how much of the main street to include in a proposed historic district.
The historic district proposal has also apparently rekindled old opposition to plans to carve a quarry out of adjacent land.
At the center of the fight is White Grounds Road, the main street of Boyds.
The Montgomery County planning board has proposed a historic district that would include only a grouping of 15 large Victorian-style homes, a church and a school along the upper end of White Grounds Road. This area was settled by railroad engineer Col. James Boyd after the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad first laid track through the area in 1873. The upper end of the road, where the most recent home building took place in 1928, was traditionally the white area of town.
Along the lower end of White Grounds Road, traditionally a black area, the planning board has proposed designating six houses and buildings as individual historic sites.
The area includes 15 to 20 buildings of "typical black southern vernacular architecture of 100 years ago," said Bobbi Hahn of the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission. The area includes a church built in 1893 and the restored Boyds Negro School built in late 1890s.
A historic district is established to "preserve a streetscape, a coherent streetscape," and the properties in the lower end of White Grounds Road are not architecturally or historically coherent, said Lyn Collins, a planner with the county planning board.
Between the two sections of White Grounds Road are 10 acres of wooded, undeveloped land. The land is owned by Rockville Crushed Stone and is not included in the proposed historic district.
That is what worries Boyds residents, the historical society, the civic association and the Montgomery County Historical Preservation Commission. They want a larger district that would include both the upper and lower ends of White Grounds Road plus the 10 acres separating the two.
They said the planning board's proposal slights one group of residents' participation in the history of Boyds.
"I don't like a division of the community. I'd rather see one district or none at all," said Betty Hawkins, whose family has been living in Boyds since the late 1800s. "It would just make a black community and a white community, which we never had," she contended.
The residents also indicated that they want the 10 acres of undeveloped land included in the historic district to give them additional protection against plans by Rockville Crushed Stone to build a road across the land to a quarry that is proposed just west of Boyds.
The request for the quarry is to be heard by the county hearing examiner in March. The proposed 530-acre quarry, which is formally called a resource recovery zone, would be about a half-mile west of the town and could be served by a B&O railroad spur.
Rockville Crushed Stone is supporting the planning board's proposal for a smaller district that includes only what planners believe are authentic historic properties.
Robert W. Lanham, a planning consultant to the company, said his client "would agree to anything that's appropriate if it is a genuine historic property. If it's not, than why should it be regulated? Let's not use historic legislation to accomplish some other objective. If the historic legislation is misused, you are raising a large question about the use of historict district processes."
Owners of historic district property usually are not allowed to make exterior changes to their property without the approval of an oversight panel. And any changes must be in keeping with the character of the district.
"The historic ordinance cannot reject any rereasonable use of a property . . . not if the economic need is there," Hahn said.