(1/31/04) Town commissioners have cleared most
of their Monday night agenda to give them time to ponder two
Early in the board of commissioners'
meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the
Inn & Suites
conference room, the panel will decide whether to bring 20.3
acres owned by Bollinger Properties LLC into the town limits.
It's the first annexation request to come before the
commissioners since voters overwhelmingly over-turned a board decision at the
The last item on the agenda will be
Emmitsburg's latest plan to slow
growth while sewer repairs are made. The proposal is
to enact a temporary moratorium until the system meets
specified performance criteria.
Both measures go to the heart of
growth, the most controversial political topic in town for
With two board seats up for election
next spring, the voting will be closely watched.
The Bollinger request comes to the
board more than six
months after it was first considered by Emmitsburg's planning
and zoning commission. The town nearly engulfs the
parcel. A gap of about 50 feet between two properties is all
that keeps it from being an enclave, surrounded entirely by
Because of the property's location,
the planners unanimously voted in September to recommend
annexation approval. No opposition to the annexation was
presented at that meeting.
Josh Bollinger, one of three family
members involved in the partnership, said 50 upscale
single-family homes will eventually be built on the land.
Both Jim Gugel, the Frederick County
planner who is completing his final project with the town, and
Mike Lucas, the town's planner for almost six months, said
they believe annexing the land is good land-use policy.
Mr. Lucas, however, said he doesn't agree with the
developer's request to be exempt from paying town taxes on the
land or until five years after the land can be developed.
The last annexation bid in Emmitsburg would have
brought 67 acres into the town, allowing about 80
single-family homes, 50 townhouses and several small
businesses to be built. The request was passed by the board in
August 2002, but citizens successfully petitioned to allow
residents to vote on it in a referendum.
The matter gave rise to COPE, which
campaigned aggressively for the annexation's defeat. Town
voters listened to the grassroots group, and defeated the
annexation by a 3-to-1 margin.
The town also will consider a
moratorium that would impact lots not already approved for
development. If passed, sewer
service wouldn't be provided to any new locations
until the town's wastewater treatment plant goes at least 180
days with-out exceeding its maximum design capacity of 800,000
gallons per day.
In 2003, the
plant exceeded that
capacity about every five days on average. David
Haller, Emmitsburg's town manager, said records indicate that
in 2002 and 2003, the design capacity was exceeded at least
one day in 21 of the 24 months. The only months in which that
capacity wasn't surpassed at least once were June 2002, June
2003 and July 2003.
Bill O'Neil Jr., president of Citizens
Organized to Preserve Emmitsburg Inc., said the group stands
ready to oppose both measures. He said conditions sought in
the Bollinger annexation request, including the tax-relief
proviso and a condition saying the property will not be
subject to any future adequate public facilities ordinance,
are not good for the town.
While the moratorium would seem to
bolster COPE's growth-control agenda, Mr. O'Neil said the
moratorium doesn't go far enough. Because those projects are
approved, the proposed agreement would allow homes to be built
in Southgate and the first phase of the Brookfield
subdivision. In those developments, 155 lots are approved.
"I think a moratorium should mean
exactly that — not build some (homes), build none," Mr. O'Neil
said. "I don't believe any houses should be built until the
water and sewer crisis is solved."
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