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Emmitsburg commissioner wants policy on growth control

Sherry Greenfield

(11/17) The Town of Emmitsburg is one step closer to adopting a policy to control growth.

Commissioner Bill O’Neil has put together the town’s first adequate public facilities ordinance, a growth policy that uses a formula to ensure that roads, schools, water, sewer, emergency services and parks are adequate before development can move forward.

‘‘We’re trying to have a policy in place as the town grows," O’Neil said. ‘‘There will be a formula in place that developers and residents will have to share."

That means that if a builder puts up the money toward new roads or parks to help the development pass the growth policy, those costs will be added into the price of the new homes. ‘‘That’s fair since they’re [new residents] the ones placing the extra burden on the community," O’Neil said.

The town’s Board of Commissioners has referred the policy to planning consultants for recommendations. It will than be looked over by the town attorney before going to public hearing.

‘‘We’ve already been encouraging the public to give us comments," O’Neil said.

The proposed ordinance is drafted after the county’s growth policy with a few additions. Unlike the county’s ordinance, parks and emergency services (police, fire and rescue) must be sufficient in Emmitsburg to handle growth.

‘‘It’s modeled after Frederick County’s, but tailored more for municipalities," O’Neil said.

The towns of Thurmont, Walkersville, Mount Airy, Brunswick and Myersville have growth ordinances, and the City of Frederick is in the midst of drafting its own.

For sometime, the county has been pushing all 12 municipalities to adopt policies to control growth. County commissioners have been concerned that with less money coming from the state for such services as school construction, the financial burden on the county is heavy.

Commission President John ‘‘Lennie" Thompson Jr. (R), who has always pushed for tighter controls on growth, supports O’Neil’s efforts, but is concerned that the town’s board of commissioners will weaken the policy.

‘‘I wish him well in his efforts, but I think he will find in the end that the mayor and councilmen will pander to developers and the thing will be watered down," Thompson said.

When the board met earlier this month, members made no changes to his original draft, O’Neil said.

O’Neil is not a new supporter of growth controls. He is one of the founding members of the community activist group known as Citizens Organized to Preserve Emmitsburg. Its mission is to ensure that infrastructure is in place to support development.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government