Gaithersburg’s mayor and City Council voted to demolish a local structure and deny it designation as a historic site Monday night.
The Sterick Cottage, located at 13 Desellum Ave. in Gaithersburg, was built around 1890 in the Folk Victorian style, according to city documents. Recently, the fate of the home had been thrown into uncertainty as the city’s planning commission and the City Council considered demolition.
On Oct. 17, the Historic District Commission of the City of Gaithersburg put forth an application that would designate Sterick Cottage a historic place. The planning commission officially recommended that the city deny the application, based on previous findings.
In early October, the planning commission stated the structure’s architectural integrity had declined, and that there were “serious questions as to the building’s current state of disrepair and structural integrity.”
At a Monday night work session at City Hall, council member Cathy Drzyzgula echoed the planning commission’s sentiments.
“The repairs required are not worth it,” she said. “It’s the city’s fault that this property deteriorated to the extent that it did.”
A few council members had additional concerns. Council member Michael Sesma said the resolution should be amended to say that anything salvageable should be saved, while council member Jud Ashman said the city should take better care of similar properties in the future.
“I hope that we can pay attention to these properties in a way that is more proactive,” Ashman said.
The application from the Historic District Commission argued that the cottage embodies a particular time period, is an established part of its neighborhood, and adds to the city’s sense of time and place.
“The 122-year-old building is representative of the types of the homes constructed when Gaithersburg was first emerging as a railroad suburb during the late 19th century,” according to a memo from the city’s planning commission.
The fate of fortunetelling
The mayor and City Council members voted to support an amendment to the city’s rules on fortunetelling.
Gaithersburg is repealing its citywide ban on fortunetelling, allowing those who practice the craft to have businesses in certain city zones. The mayor and council now are supporting a version of the amendment that more narrowly defines fortunetelling.
The amendment now specifies that the businesses under regulation do not include fortunetellers at one-time events, such as street festivals or carnivals.
The bill will now go to a public hearing in early December.