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Myers Farm clears first hurdle in seeking annexation

(11/18) The Myers farm has cleared the first, and easiest hurdle in its quest to be annexed into Thurmont. The Thurmont commissioners agreed that the property is adjacent to the town.

Though the commissioners' discussion on Nov. 7 was not directly about annexation, had they not decided that the Myers farm was adjacent to the town, the developer's hope of annexation would have died for the time being.

The Myers farm is not currently within the town and to be eligible for annexation into town under state law, it must touch, or be considered "contiguous and adjacent," to the town.

In the case of the Myers farm, the developer Hudson Land, LLC asked that the property be considered contiguous through its connection to the town along the Route 15 right of way.

Rand Weinberg, attorney for Hudson Land, cited an opinion by the Maryland Attorney General that a property needs to be more than touching a town to be considered contiguous. Town attorney Lynn Board said the state had set this stipulation in part to ensure that town services could be delivered efficiently.

"Regardless of distance, is there a community identity between the town and annexed land?" Weinberg said.

He then pointed out that the farm is on the other side of Catoctin High School and less than a quarter mile outside of Thurmont. Though the school is not within town boundaries, many consider it part of town.

Board said that using a state highway right-of-way to connect a piece of property is legal and has been used before in land annexations in the state and Frederick County.

"Whatever decision you make this evening will set a precedent for future boards," Board said.

"If we already have property on both sides of Rt. 15, then the precedent has already been set," Commissioner Ron Terpko said.

Weinberg also said that a portion of the farm is considered to be in the town's ultimate growth boundary in the Thurmont Regional Plan. John Ford said that although part of the farm is considered in the town's growth boundary in the county's plan, it is not in the growth boundary in the town's master plan.

Rand said the commissioners needed to consider not annexation at this time but whether the property is part of the Thurmont community.

"We understand we've got a lot to talk about," Weinberg said. "We've got some selling to do."

Though annexation was not the topic of discussion, it was a prelude to annexation and some people wanted to talk about that.

"The people who live here don't want this," said Paul Hoult. "Come on out to AMVETS, come on out to the hardware store. People are talking about you and they're not talking nice."

Mayor Martin Burns said, "This should not be used as a tool not to annex and this is what I believed it is being used for."

The board voted 3-1 to consider the property contiguous to the town. Commissioner Glenn Muth was the lone dissenting vote.

Now that the property is considered eligible for annexation, it will have to go through the series of county and town hearings on whether it should be annexed. A final decision is not expected until February 2007.

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