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County residents have few options in annexation proposal

Ingrid Mezo
The Gazette

The community shouldn’t wait in opposing the annexation of the 235-acre Myers farm into Thurmont town limits, according Frederick Regional Action Network executive director Kai Hagen.

Hagen, a Thurmont area resident, is also running for a seat on the Frederick Board of County Commissioners.

‘‘...Our government functions better, and represents our broader community interests better, when more people are more informed and more involved," Hagen said in an e-mail to The Gazette. ‘‘In this instance, working to inform more people, and encourage them to get involved, is not something that starts on the day the developer submits a formal request for annexation. And it’s not something that distinguishes whether or not someone lives and votes in town."

Once a formal annexation request is made, those opposing the annexation will have 45 days to get 668 signatures from town residents on a petition to force a referendum. Those who live near the Myers farm, but outside town limits, will not be able to sign a petition for referendum or vote on it.

County resident Kevin Haney, who lives near the area being considered for annexation, has been outspoken about his opposition to it.

‘‘We’re basically just on hold until they submit their annexation petition and that will probably be in the next two or three months," he said. ‘‘Beyond that, the only thing we can really do is go to the planning meetings for the Thurmont master plan which is what we’ve been doing."

Haney added he has not contacted county commissioners about the proposal yet.‘‘They won’t get involved until there is a formal proposal petition for annexation," he said.

Commissioner Michael L. Cady (R), who is running for re-election, said in a phone interview last week that county residents have three opportunities to participate in the process, though they will not be able to vote in a referendum.

‘‘Just because you don’t live in the town doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with the elected officials of the town," Cady said. ‘‘The first [way county residents can participate] is to pay attention to what the town is doing with the annexation and make sure their opinions are known. The second thing is that the county will decide on consistency [with the Thurmont Region Plan] before the Town of Thurmont decides on annexation. ... The third opportunity is when the Thurmont Region Plan comes up for discussion, everybody is encouraged to weigh in on that."

In the meantime, as town and county officials and residents await a formal annexation proposal from the developer, Hagen said the Frederick Regional Action Network would continue to get information out to the community and encourage them to get involved in the process.

‘‘Many people already know enough ... to be concerned about the impact significant development, in that particular place, could have on their lives and community," Hagen said. ‘‘... I expect there will be a petition for referendum if and when the annexation and an annexation agreement are approved."

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