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Final plans for drive-in to be submitted

David Loos
Frederick News Post

(7/27/04) Construction has yet to begin on Bumpers Drive-In Theater in northeastern Frederick County, a project that was approved more than a year ago and originally slated for a spring 2004 opening.

Project developer and American Family Entertainment president Alan Ackerman says a longer-than-expected final approval process with the county and State Highway Administration is to blame, but that bar-ring further delays, the theater will break ground this fall and open next April.

"We're submitting our final draft this Friday to the county, and they have two weeks to respond," said Mr. Ackerman. "We feel that we have adjusted the plans so many times, there can't be anymore revisions.

Mr. Ackerman spent much of last year trying to sell nearby residents and Planning Commission members on the merits of the drive-in, which will be built on 8 1/2 acres at the site of the abandoned Monocacy Drive-In, which operated from 1952 to 1984.

The proposed theater — located along Md. 140 near Bridgeport Road in Taneytown — will include two digital movie screens and parking for 400 cars, as well as new concession stands.

In June 2003 the Planning Commission granted conditional approval to the site plans for Bumpers, despite reservations from several members about the neighbor-hood impact and concerns. At that time Mr. Ackerman said the theater would open by April 2004.

At issue with county planners, said Mr. Ackerman, has been the proximity of the theater's septic system to the Monocacy River and road improvements to Md. 140.

"It's just taken much longer than I thought," said the Eldersburg resident. "There's been much more red tape than we ever expected."

SHA spokesperson Kelly Boulware said the state made recommendations last year concerning improvements to Md. 140 — including a new left turn lane on to Bridge-port Road and shoulder widening — but has not been involved with the project since.

"We're just serving as a review agency for the county," she said. "The county will issue the final permits."

Added Ms. Boulware, "Anytime there is a new commercial property coming in, we determine specific safety modifications. That's what we did here."

Once the county issues final approval, Mr. Ackerman said work can begin on the $1.8 million project, which when complete will be the fourth active drive-in theater in Maryland.

"We're hoping to have all the site work done before winter, including landscaping, the sewer, all the facilities and the screen," he said. "That should put us in good shape to open by April 1."