(2/2/04) A 20.3-acre parcel has received town
government approval to be brought within Emmitsburg's limits,
but whether that actually happens might be decided by voters
Monday night, Bollinger Properties LLC
won approval to have its land off
Irishtown Road annexed.
The Emmitsburg board of commissioners voted 3-1 to accept the
parcel, which virtually is engulfed by the town.
After the vote, however, BiIl O'Neil
Jr. said the board's action might go to referendum. Mr.
O'Neil, president of Citizens Organized to Preserve Emmitsburg
Inc. (COPE), said the organization may start a petition to
have the annexation placed on the ballot for the April 27
COPE formed last year to oppose
another annexation, one voters rejected 3-to-i.
Mr. O'Neil said the general sentiment
of COPE's members is that the town should solve its sewer
crisis before considering annexing any land. He also said that
a provision of the annexation agreement providing a town tax
exemption if a building moratorium is imposed amounts to "a
giveaway for the developers at the expense of the taxpayers."
The opposition voiced by four people
was the first heard at a public hearing. No one spoke against
the annexation when the town's planning and zoning commission
recommended its approval by a 4-0 vote.
Mr. O'Neil and Harold Craig, COPE's
vice president, adamantly opposed the request. They contended
that traffic will be worse, schools will be more overcrowded
and taxes will go up.
In closing his prepared comments, Mr.
Craig said he hoped the wishes of the voters "will not be
ignored again by all but one commissioner," referring to Art
Elder. The statement prompted Patrick Boyle, the board's
president, to chuckle and toss his pen to the table.
Catherine Forrence also urged the
board to deny the request, suggesting that the town buy the
land and build a park there.
The lone citizen speaking for the
annexation was Larry Little. He said the land will be
developed eventually and the Bollingers, who are longtime
local residents, were willing to make concessions that benefit
The Bollinger partnership then proved
Mr. Little's claims, yielding to all recommendations made by
the town staff, board members and mayor. It agreed to give up
its request for exemption from any Adequate Public Facilities
Ordinance and tax relief until development began, and paying
$75,000 to the town for sewer repair.
Michael Lucas, Emmitsburg's planner,
said the $75,000 covers the estimated construction cost for
the part of the Little Run sewer line running through the
Bollingers' property. The line is scheduled to be replaced
Commissioner Joyce Rosen-steel and
Mayor Jim Hoover were concerned about when the property would
be developed and its impact on the sewer system if the town
failed to enact a managed growth plan or moratorium. The
Bollingers essentially accepted a moratorium on their
property, agreeing that the land will not be developed until
the town goes 180 consecutive days without exceeding the
design capacity at its wastewater treatment plant.
In case the town imposed a moratorium,
the Bollingers had asked to be exempt from town
while it was in effect for a period of
up to five years. At the mayor's behest, the developers
accepted a reduction of that period to three years.
Mr. Elder, the lone dissenter on the
board, said he thought it was a good project but couldn't
support it given the problems the town has with its sewer
Commissioner Cliff Sweeney, however,
reasoned that the Bollingers "most likely won't be building
any houses until we get the sewer lines fixed anyway." Mr.
Boyle said annexation opponents were off base when they
claimed the town got nothing out of the deal, pointed to the
money provided for sewer-line repairs and upgrading Irishtown
If COPE opts to try to take the
matter before the voters, it will have 45 days from when the
annexation resolution is passed to gather valid signatures
from 20 percent of the town's 1,020 registered voters. The
resolution is expected to be ready for the board's March 1st
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