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(a) There is a county easement program to preserve historic resources in Montgomery County. The commission must administer the program in accordance with this section.
(b) (1) An owner of an historic resource may offer the county a preservation easement to protect or conserve interior or exterior features of the historic resource and its environmental setting or appurtenances by making application to the commission.
(2) Upon receipt of an application, the commission must immediately forward the application for review and comment to:
(A) the planning board if the historic resource is located within the Maryland-Washington Regional District; and
(B) the appropriate agency of a municipality if the historic resource is located within a municipality.
Review and comment under this paragraph must be made within 45 days and should include an evaluation of the proposal using the criteria specified in this section as well as identification of competing or supporting land use priorities or other relevant factors or issues. Recommendations may include proposed easement terms and conditions.
(3) The commission must review the application to determine if acceptance of the preservation easement would further the county's historic preservation goals. In making its determination, the commission should consider, among other relevant factors:
(A) the relative significance of the historic resource;
(B) the structural condition;
(C) the owner's planned or completed preservation efforts;
(D) the existing zoning and nature of the surrounding neighborhood; and
(E) whether an easement will promote long-term survival of the historic resource.
(c) If the historic resource is designated as an historic site in the county master plan for historic preservation, either as an individual site or located within an historic district, the county may acquire an easement upon positive recommendation of the commission and approval of the county executive. If the historic resource is not designated as an historic site in the master plan, the additional approval of the county council is required prior to any acceptance by the county. The commission must forward any comments received under subsection (b)(2) to the county executive and the county council, as appropriate.
(d) A preservation easement under this section should be granted in perpetuity and include appropriate terms and conditions that:
(1) restrict changes and alterations;
(2) require maintenance, repairs, and administration;
(3) authorize public access;
(4) provide a right of governmental inspection;
(5) provide for a right of assignment to the Maryland Historical Trust or other appropriate agency or entity; and
(6) establish enforcement remedies.
(e) The county may hold a preservation easement jointly with the Maryland Historical Trust.
(f) A preservation easement must be recorded by the grantor among the land records of the county at the grantor's cost. The grantor must notify the supervisor of assessments and the Office of the Public Tax Advocate of the recordation of the preservation easement.
*Editor's note—When originally enacted, 1989 L.M.C., ch. 4, did not contain a subsection (g).
(h) A preservation easement may be extinguished by judicial proceeding if an unexpected change in the conditions applicable to the property, such as casualty, make it impossible or impractical to continue to use it for preservation purposes. The terms of an easement related to extinguishment should identify appropriate changes in condition, provide that the county share in any proceeds from a subsequent sale or exchange of the property after the easement is extinguished, and be in accordance with any applicable executive regulations. The sharing in proceeds may include the recapture of property taxes saved by the grantor or its successor in interest, either in part or in full, as a result of the easement.
(i) The commission may enter into a cooperative agreement with the Maryland Historical Trust or other appropriate agencies or entities for technical assistance in administering the historic easement program. This may include assistance in property evaluation, negotiation, and inspection.
(j) (1) The easement program authorized under this section is in addition to, and does not supersede or otherwise affect, any other county or municipal program or policy requiring the donation of a preservation easement as a condition of financial assistance. It must operate in conjunction with other county or municipal easement programs.
(2) The grant of an easement under this section does not eliminate or otherwise alter any county or municipal regulatory requirement applicable to the historic resource, including any requirement to obtain an historic area work permit.
(k) The county executive, with the advice of the commission, may adopt regulations under method (2) to administer the historic preservation easement. (1989 L.M.C., ch. 4, § 1; Ord. No. 11-59.)
Editor's note-Section 24A-13, relating to the applicability of this chapter within incorporated municipalities, derived from Ord. No. 9-4, § 1, was repealed by § 15 of 1985 L.M.C., ch. 31. See § 2-96. Subsequently, § 1, of 1989 L.M.C., ch. 4. added a new § 24A-13. Section 2 of that act reads as follows:
Sec. 2. To assist the County in its administration of the historic preservation easement program, the supervisor of assessments is requested to maintain records of both the assessmentof the property as restricted under this program by easement and the assessment that would apply if the property was not subject to an easement.