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COPE circulates petition for annexation vote

Chris Paterson

It's becoming a regular election tradition in Emmitsburg -- gathering petitions to bring annexations to referendum.

The grassroots political group Citizens Organized to Preserve Emmitsburg (COPE) is once again circulating petitions to stop a 20-acre annexation into the town.

Members are asking residents to sign the petition to bring the annexation of a tract of land sitting west of Irishtown Road to a vote by the public. The town's Board of Commissioners approved the annexation in a 3­1 vote on Feb. 2.

Commissioners Patrick Boyle, Joyce Rosensteel and Clifford Sweeney voted for the annexation. Sweeney is up for election this year. Commissioner Art Elder, a member of COPE, voted against the annexation.

At a meeting of the organization Feb. 26, members estimated they had received 70 of the 210 signatures required within 45 days of the approval to bring the issue to referendum.

On Wednesday, Board President Bill O'Neil said there were more than 165 signatures already on the petition.

The group reminds residents in its literature that a signature on the petition does not mean a vote against the annexation. The literature also clearly delineates the group's anti-annexation position.

O'Neil and Vice President Harold Craig -- both running for town commissioner in this year's election -- have been outspoken critics of any growth in the town since the commission approved the annexation of 67-acre Silver Fancy Farm a year ago.

At that time, residents opposed to the annexation formed COPE, which has been active in all town issues since that time.

During the 2003 election, the Silver Fancy annexation was soundly defeated, and COPE member Art Elder was elected to office to replace the one commissioner up for re-election in 2003 who voted for the Silver Fancy annexation.

Elder is not circulating the petition, however.

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