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Commissioners hear more details on
Lawyer Farm Annexation

James Rada Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(9/9) Though the Lawyer Farm on the east side of Thurmont is a farm, it is within the town's growth boundary. The farm is also surrounded by residential development, which makes it more attractive for development.

Now Jan and Kristen Lawyer are interested in having the 131 acres developed into 241 homes.

George Rathlev, executive vice president with Beazer Homes of Columbia, spoke to the town commissioners on Aug. 29 to update them on the conceptual plans for the development.

"As soon as we have resolved in our minds the issues relating to roads and sewers, we'd like to bring an annexation request before the town body," said Rathlev.

The homes are expected to have an average price in the mid-$400,000s. The lots would vary from 12,000 square feet along the exterior of the development to 8,000 square feet for the lots further inside the development.

Rathlev said the community would have walking trails, tot lots, common areas and a good deal of green space. Though he did not know how much of the development would be parkland, on the conceptual plan it appears to be about one-third of the farm, with most of the area on the southeast side of the property.

Commissioner Ron Terpko asked if the parkland could be moved to the north in order to increase the number of athletic fields at East End Park. Rathlev said it could be considered but a stream valley on the southeast side made that area better suited for a park. In addition, that area was outside of the town's growth boundary.

The availability of water for new development remains a concern among residents and the commissioners. Rathlev said, "We believe we have reached an agreement with a neighboring owner with access to a well that could supply water to the sites plus additional sites."

However, Beazer Homes is still studying the sewer and road situation in the area to determine how to deal with the impact of 241 homes on the infrastructure.

Beazer Homes would like to build about 50 homes a year beginning in 2008.

"You're at the upper limits, or even above the limit, of what some people would find acceptable," Mayor Martin Burns told Rathlev.

Rathlev said Beazer Homes had tried to keep the expected build-out of the development slow while recognizing the need to pay for the infrastructure improvements the company would have to make.

Thurmont Planning Commission Chairman John Ford said, "The town has put a limit on previous development of 25 a year and we've never had a complaint."

To date, none of the three expected annexation requests has been presented to the town for consideration.

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