Kensington resident Helen Wilkes will give up the development rights on a portion of her property in Kensington’s historic district, if an application to the county’s Historic Preservation Commission is approved early next year.
The home on Prospect Street is one of approximately 200 historic houses and buildings in the district, which is located between the railroad tracks and the Washington, D.C. line and straddles Connecticut Avenue, according to the town website.
Wilkes said she is seeking an easement that would protect her 50-foot side lot from future development. Wilkes, who has lived in Kensington for 23 years, said additional housing has been built on similar side lots, but the open space that separates houses in the district are part of the historic character of the neighborhood.
“We are essentially giving up the development rights for an additional house next to our house,” Wilkes said. “When an infill house is put between two historic houses, it’s a pretty dramatic change to the historic setting.”
Development rights would be held by the county, and the easement will be conveyed with the deed, she said.
To obtain a historic preservation easement, a property owner must make an application to the county’s Historic Preservation Commission, which will approve or deny the application after receiving recommendations from the relevant municipality and the Montgomery County Planning Board. The county executive also must approve the easement.
It would be the third easement in the historic district, said Wilkes, who is a founding member of the Kensington Land Trust, which seeks to protect historic properties and educate residents about the value of easements. She said the Land Trust members are working on a new website and plan to increase their presence in town.
Kensington Town Council approved a resolution Dec. 10 that recommends approval of the easement.