Mechelle Kerns the developer’s archeology consultant on the downtown hotel project will not complete the submission to the Maryland Historical Trust that is needed for any state
money to flow to the project. She told the Frederick News-Post that following her failure to get the State Attorney’s office to pursue ‘harassment’ charges against hotel critic Patrick Allen she plans to pursue a civil case for libel.
She was quoted: “It is my plan to pursue the (civil) case and as my client (the hotel developer) had prohibited me — under threat of termination — from proceeding with the lawsuit while actively working on the project, I can advance it now as my role in the project is now complete.”
Kerns’ submission to the Maryland Historical Trust on behalf of the City and its chosen developer Plamondon has been deemed incomplete. The MHT’s 8-page letter of February 7 to the City’s Richard Griffin contained an Attachment 2, of twenty-eight numbered points spread over almost three pages detailing inadequacies in Kerns’ submission. It is called a ‘draft.’
Some of Kerns’ listed mistakes are editing matters and fairly easily remedied, but others require substantial further work. In addition the state Historical Trust wants the archeology submission to acknowledge in final form the importance of the site and the potential for more archeological study.
The MHT wrote in their comment on Kerns’ draft on the site, termed 18FR575:
“The (Birely tannery) site is significant for its association with the pivotal tanning industry and continues to have demonstrated potential to yield notable information regarding the
functioning and evolution of the tannery throughout the 19th – mid 20th c. Based on information from the Trust’s Synthesis Project, the Birely Tannery site remains the only tannery site in Maryland that has been professionally investigated at the Phase 2 and Phase 3 level and found to yield substantive and comprehensive information regarding this important industry… The (archeology) report should not discount the need for and value of further data recovery investigations at 18FR575…”
Plamondon has put Kerns off without her submission being completed as required by the Maryland Historical Trust. It seems most unlikely now that a new archeologist will be hired to complete the work.
Throwing good money after bad
The Trust has declared the tannery building and the site to be eligible for the National Historic Register, and contributors to the downtown Historic District. It is most unlikely the Trust will agree to demolition of the tannery building. Even worse for the project, the whole site has been deemed of importance archaeologically.
Given the failure of Kerns submission pursuing the hotel project further on the tannery site by doing more archeological work looks like throwing good money after bad.
Another consideration is that the Maryland Historical Trust ruling makes it considerably more difficult for the project to get through the City’s own Historic Preservation Commission.
On the ‘harassment’ charges
The Frederick News-Post reports a staffer at the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office, Leslie Paterson, as saying the harassment charges were not pressed because of “insufficient evidence.” Kerns herself was quoted as saying the Assistant State’s Attorney told her Allen did not harass her personally and that his posted material was likely ‘protected free speech.’
There was, it is clear, no case to be made of criminal harassment.
As for her proposed civil action she says her goal is “to shine a light” in a court on what she called Allen’s “absurd actions.” Allen’s behavior was “a textbook case of cyber-bullying” or “trolling,” Kerns told the Post.
But that is not libel.
Kerns problem is that Allen can argue that she invited verbal attack by her attacks on him. If she had behaved professionally, refrained from personal attacks on Allen and other hotel skeptics, and stuck to her archeology then the slanging match would never have occurred. She ‘trolled’ Allen at least as much as he trolled her. 2017.02.24