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 Bollinger Annexation Bid Placed on Hold

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

Bollinger Properties LLC will have to wait another month to learn the town planning commission's reaction to its proposed annexation and rezoning. But it learned Monday night that a handful of vocal residents and property owners aren't in favor of more houses.

After hearing from six people concerned about or opposed to the projects, the planning commission deferred its decision to recommend approval or denial of the requests. Its ruling is expected on Aug. 25, when a rezoning request for an adjacent tract in the Brookfield subdivision is on the agenda.

That meeting, like Monday's, will be held at the Sleep Inn conference room beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Josh Bollinger, president of Bollinger Homes and one of three family members affiliated with Bollinger Properties, said he was surprised by the decision-making delay. He said it wouldn't affect any development timetable but said that "any delay is not a good thing for us." Bollinger Properties wants almost 20.3 acres virtually encircled by town property to be annexed. Mr. Bollinger said 50 "upscale, luxury, single-family homes" similar to those in Brookfield would be built on the 14 acres that can be developed.

Because the tract is barely connected to other county property, Bruce Dean, a lawyer representing the partnership, said the annexation would be like filling "the hole in the doughnut. If any annexation would be appropriate, I think this is the one that should."

The roughly 8.9 acres up for rezoning is part of the same tract but is inside the town limits. If the change is approved, Mr. Bollinger plans to build four senior-housing buildings to be sold only to people age 55 or older. Each brick structure would contain 12 units of 1,400 to 1,500 square feet.

Mr. Dean said such projects are being built all around Frederick County because "you have a lot of people who move out of their houses but don't want to move out of their community."

But if the residents and property owners who spoke Monday night get their way, one won't get built in Emmitsburg, at least not now.

They questioned whether the projects would overburden a water and sewer system that is in disrepair. They worried about the effect of extra traffic on already crowded streets. They lamented the thought of putting more students in schools already using portables for classrooms.

"It disturbs me that wešre not taking care of our own," Larry Little said. "What makes sense is to take care of the people of Emmitsburg."

Betsey Forrence, who lives outside the town but owns rental properties within its limits, said 290 homes already are approved for development in Emmitsburg. Their effect on the cityšs water and sewer systems, roads and schools remains unknown, she contended.

"I think the prudent thing ... is to wait and see how all this shakes out," she said.

Harold Craig, vice president of Citizens Organized to Protect Emmitsburg Inc., said the organization believes the town should deny development until its infrastructure catches up with current use. The group got the last annexation overturned by petitioning for referendum and campaigning for its defeat, and Mr. Craig said it would do that again if necessary.

Mr. Bollinger said it would be difficult to go forward with the senior-housing project if the annexation isn't approved.

"We see both as one project," he said. "We need the annexation to make the project work."

Frank Henry, chairman of the planning commission, requested more up-to-date traffic reports for Irishtown Road by the next meeting and also wants input from Emmit Court residents. The entrance to their townhouses would be extended to provide access to the senior housing.

If the planning commission votes in August, the board of commissioners could make a final decision in October.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government