(4/1) residents will vote for or against the annexation of more than
20 acres into town -- already approved by the town's board of commissioners --
but the mayor has not yet decided when that vote will take place.
On March 25, Mayor Jim Hoover accepted 261 of the 334 signatures submitted
in a petition to bring the annexation to a referendum vote.
Hoover said the group circulating the petition, Citizens Organized to
Preserve Emmitsburg (COPE), only needed 208 signatures to meet the required
signatures from 20 percent of the town's registered voters.
COPE President Bill O'Neil wrote in an e-mail to The Gazette that though
sufficient signatures were accepted to bring the annexation to a vote, the
organization is upset because 15 of the discarded signatures should have been
In particular, O'Neil is concerned about nine names that were discarded for
what he said were unknown reasons. He and COPE Vice President Harold Craig are
planning to meet with Hoover to find out why certain names were disallowed.
At a COPE meeting Tuesday night, members expressed concern about the
discarded signatures. Most were particularly upset about disallowing names of
some of the sisters at The Provincial House, a Catholic retirement home, on
South Seton Avenue.
"What concerns me is the nitpicking that's going on with the mayor when it's
obvious in some of these cases when people choose to sign their name in a
particular way and do that all the time, but the way they sign their name
doesn't match with their name on the voter registration," resident Catherine
Forrence said one person on the list signed her first name as "Katie"
instead of Kathleen and her name was disallowed. What didn't make sense to
Forrence was that her own name was accepted even though she said she signed the
petition as "C. Forrence."
Town clerk Donna Thompson said the town didn't necessarily keep records of
why each name was rejected, but noted more than 50 signatures from sisters at
The Provincial House were accepted. And many signatures were denied because
they just did not match or they could not make the assumption that the nickname
was the person on the voter list.
COPE members were also concerned about the possibility of the town holding a
separate vote on the annexation. The election for two town commissioner slots
will be held April 27, and Hoover said he would like to hold the annexation
vote on that date.
The decision regarding when to hold the annexation vote is his to make, and
he has not yet decided. He said he hopes to make the decision by Monday, the
day of the next town meeting.
Hoover said the delay in determining the date for the vote is because the
owner of the property for annexation, Josh Bollinger, has requested a hearing
to discuss one of the conditions of the annexation.
Bollinger wants to discuss one of the annexation conditions requiring that
he not begin construction until the town's sewer plant stays within its
permitted capacity for 180 consecutive days, Hoover said.
The commissioners voted to hear Bollinger's request at 7 p.m. in the town
hall on April 19, the latest day a decision could be made and still hold the
referendum at the April 27 election, Hoover said.