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Northern Frederick County sees minimal growth last year

(7/5) Growth in Emmitsburg and Thurmont last year was six. Not six percent. Six people. This is according to new estimates on municipal populations that the U.S. Census Bureau released on June 28.

According to the numbers, Thurmont's population last year was 6027, up 5 people from 2005. The average growth since the 2000 census has been 1.3 percent a year.

"I think that's a little slow personally," said Thurmont Planning and Zoning Chairman John Kinnaird. He said the commission hasn't officially taken a position on how fast the town should grow, though 2 percent annually has been discussed more than most options.

Emmitsburg has grown even slower than Thurmont. Last year, its population was 2365, one more person than in 2005. However, this follows two years where the town showed a decreasing population. Since the 2000 census, Emmitsburg's growth has averaged 0.5 percent a year or 3.3 percent over six years.

"We certainly were looking at 3 percent growth not necessarily over 6 years, though," said Emmitsburg Planning and Zoning Chairman Larry Little.

Emmitsburg has grown the slowest of all Frederick County municipalities since the 2000 census, though Brunswick and Rosemont showed no growth at all this past year.

Emmitsburg Mayor James Hoover the town's growth is limited by a Maryland Department of the Environment consent order. "Until that's satisfied, we're going to remain below our growth projection for the next several years."

Thurmont Mayor Martin Burns expects things to slow even more for the town in the future. "Wait till the next couple years," he said. "We have no homes in the pipeline."

Recently returned from a Maryland Municipal League convention, he said that some of discussion at the conference was about annexations and smart growth. When towns annex property and develop it at a higher density and close to population centers, it prevents sprawl.

"If you build in the county, only the county benefits and you get sprawl," Burns said.

He also noted that if the State of Maryland reduces its aid to municipalities as is being talking about, that reduction of revenue will hurt Thurmont because the town is expecting less in growth-related revenues while facing higher costs, particularly in the area of rehabilitating its sewer system.

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