(3/20) The Frederick County Commissioners
took action on Mar. 17 that would lead in the downzoning of properties adjacent
to the municipal boundaries of Emmitsburg.
“In the broad scheme of things, I don’t
want anything sitting outside of the town’s borders that is zoned and planned
for development,” Commissioner Lennie Thompson said during a commissioners
Parcel by parcel, he began proposing that
properties adjacent to Emmitsburg be downzoned from their residential
designations to agricultural land use designations, which would lead to a
zoning change to agricultural as well.
Thompson said that in doing so, it
“removes the gun cocked at Emmitsburg’s head to annex.”
He believes that if the county designates
land for any type of development, a developer could tell a municipality that if
the municipality doesn’t annex the property under terms favorable to the
developer, the developer will develop the land under that county low-density
Emmitsburg Mayor James Hoover said after
the meeting that he doesn’t buy this reasoning. “If it was possible to do,
Silver Fancy would have been developed long ago.” The owners want to develop
the property but it has been rejected for annexation and it still remains
He said the properties can’t develop
outside of town because there are no water and sewer resources to use. The town
will be limited in how fast it develops as well because the Maryland Department
of Natural Resources is requiring future growth to be in balance with available
“Our threat is Pennsylvania more so than
unincorporated parts of the county that surround us,” Hoover said. “This is
truly nothing more than a smoke screen by Lennie [Thompson].”
However, this move runs counter to county
policy which says that if a municipality designates land for future growth, the
county does not give it conflicting zoning.
With conflicting zoning between the county
and municipality, the county has the ability to delay any development through
annexation by five years by not granting a waiver of inconsistency. This is
part of what happened to Myers Farm annexation in Thurmont last year.
“The full intent of this proposal is to
say bye-bye to development,” Hoover said.
By the time, the commissioners had rezoned most of the properties around the
town, Commission President Jan Gardner discovered a possible problem with what
they had done.
“We probably should have left a lot of
this as LDR [low-density residential] and then changed the zoning to ag,”
She said the commissioners would probably
have to go back and change many of their votes to reflect this. Hoover said he
wouldn’t have a problem with this change so much because it still designates
the planned land use for some type of residential development.
The commissioners plan to meet with
municipal officials on Apr. 24 to discuss their concerns with the plan. Then
the draft plan will have a public hearing on May 13.
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