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Residents voted against annexing Bollinger

Tara E. Buck
Frederick News Post

Residents voted against annexing another 20 acres into town limits, temporarily stalling a plan for about 50 homes just off Irishtown Road.

The special referendum was held Tuesday and resulted in 159 votes against the annexation and 112 votes in favor.

Catherine Forrence, president of Citizens Organization to Protect Emmitsburg, credited her group’s membership Wednesday with victory against the move.

Others, including Mayor Jim Hoover, believe that the development could still come and bring more traffic and more children in schools without the benefits of a larger assessable tax base.

A similar fate is being played out with the Silver Fancy Farm development, Mr. Hoover said Wednesday. Plans are now going through the county, following an annexation failure after a similar fight from COPE.

Property owner Josh Bollinger would have contributed $75,000 toward much-needed sewer system repairs as well as improvements to and widening of Irishtown Road as part of the Bollinger family’s proposed annexation agreement with the town.

Now the town’s leaders can only wait to see if Mr. Bollinger will re-submit an application for annexation.

Still, COPE’s members are happy with Tuesday’s results.

Ms. Forrence said Wednesday that COPE worked diligently from February until the day of the vote to rally support against the annexation, gathering signatures on petitions and getting voters to the polls.

"I think this means the (town’s) commissioners are hearing what the residents truly want for the town," Ms. Forrence said. "Emmitsburg is fortunate to have COPE organizing and doing the leg work, collecting signatures. ... Hopefully, with the growth moratorium in place, perhaps this election will have some effect on speculative development in Emmitsburg."

She said Tuesday’s vote was a "huge victory" for COPE and the town.

On the other side of the spectrum, Mr. Hoover said the town is now likely to lose out on collecting needed funds.

"I’m not surprised about the outcome," Mr. Hoover said, "but I’m concerned about the outcome. A lot of people don’t realize what they may have voted for or against. I don’t believe that people are understanding that the annexation doesn’t necessarily mean development.

"The property owner wasn’t guaranteed the right to build," he continued. "An annexation application is still subject to current and future planning and zoning ordinances within the town and still must be reviewed and approved by the planning and zoning commission. ... I’m concerned if we continue to reject annexation requests within our growth limits. The county may feel a lot of pressure to allow development within our growth limits with packaged storm water treatment plants. We certainly don’t want to end up with the county or privately owned treatment plants surrounding our border."

"My concern is that it will end up like the Silver Fancy Farm and, without annexation, they’ll seek other alternatives," he said. "The proposed developer of that land (Silver Fancy Farm) is seeking support or approval from the county to go ahead and develop that land. If that’s granted, the town is really at a huge disadvantage."

Mr. Bollinger could not be reached on Wednesday for comment. What will happen next with the parcel is, ultimately, up to him.

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