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Third possible annexation, east of town

James Rada
Thurmont Dispatch

(6/15) Pressure on Thurmont to grow continues from the north, south, and now, the east. Thurmont's only hard border is to the west where national and state lands limit how much the town can expand.

The newest interest in annexation comes from the Lawyer family and Beazer Homes of Columbia.

Mayor Martin Burns said all of this interest in annexation coming at once is because "All of these groups want to be first in hopes that their annexation will be more likely to be accepted."

Burns met with representatives of the family and developer on Tuesday, June 6, before the weekly town meeting.

Jan and Kristen Lawyer are interested in having their farm near East End Park annexed into Thurmont.

"We tried before, but things just weren't right at the time," said Jan Lawyer.

The 130 acres of farmland could be developed for 240 homes, beginning in 2008.

"It might even come up less than that," said Lawyer.

Burns said the lots would vary from 12,000 square feet on the exterior of the development to 8,000 square feet for the lots inside the development. While not currently part of the town, the farm is within the town's future growth boundary.

"They said they think they can handle 50 homes a year, which is the smallest yet," Burns said.

The other two expected developments would like to phase in their homes at a rate of around 75 homes a year. However, even 50 homes a year is higher than the planning and zoning commission has been allowing subdivisions to grow.

"We may be able to make it work with fewer," Lawyer said. "I'm flexible. It boils down to what the town needs and what the developer can work with."

Burns and the others also discussed what the development could bring to the town. One suggestion is that the developer build the shell of the new police building which will be near the development. Lawyer said the development would also have plenty of green space and walkways.

"You're not coming in for nothing anymore," Burns said.

The Lawyers petitioned the town for annexation once before, but it didn't happen because the development would have failed the school and sewer tests for the town's adequate public facilities ordinance.

''They wanted to know what I thought, but until the sewer system is fixed and tested I don't think anyone stands a chance of annexing anything," Burns said.

He said one benefit of annexation above whatever the town gets from the annexation agreement would be the impact and connection fees for the new homes. The town is running out of building lots in town. In next year's budget 25 expected homes will generate $316,500 in impact and connection fees.

"We are running out of homes," Burns said. "Next year will be it. That cash cow is done."

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