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Is annexation pitting town residents against county residents?

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(12/29) Though not scientific, a poll conducted by Mayor Martin Burns at a special meeting held to discuss a possible annexation into town showed a definite opinion split between town and county residents who were present.

Each of the 13 county residents in attendance was against the project, with most of them living near the Myers farm. Of the 25 town residents who signed the poll, 19 were for it, three were against it, and two were undecided.

During the meeting at the town office on Dec. 13, Burns gave attendees a handout showing what he saw as the pros and cons of the project. Among the pros and cons, Burns listed were:

Pros:

  • $9.2 million worth of tax- and rate-saving proffers
  • Large retail store and office spaces
  • New jobs
  • Increase in available housing (both single family and townhouses)
  • 35 houses per year not starting until 2009
  • Increased tax base

Cons:

  • Increased traffic
  • Increased population
  • Increase in school capacity
  • Decrease in scenic vistas
  • Increase in potential maintenance costs and labor

The goal of the meeting was to gauge residents' opinions about the annexation proposal now that Hudson Land, LLC has not only made an annexation request but also offered incentives for the annexation.

Though the meeting was designed to gather resident input, about a third of the 38 people who attended live outside the town limits. The town will also continue to solicit input from residents on their opinions about the annexations. Interested residents can either add their opinion to the poll at the town office or call one of the commissioners.

Burns asked the group to consider all aspects of the decision. Although the town stands to gain about $4.4 million in various town impact fees and another $2.6 million in various incentives, he said, "Money isn't everything, but is a serious aspect to consider. …You also have to consider small town quality of life."

However, the money would pay for some major capital projects for the town, including the completion of the sewer repair, which is expected to be around $5 million.

According to the handout given residents, Burns wrote, the town has a current capital budget of $1.4 million (excluding electric). With the amount of money being offered for this annexation, "the town can keep rates and taxes lower, and provide years' worth of additional capital projects at no cost to current residents."

- Raymond Buchheister contributed to this article.

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