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No more annexations for now

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(10/22) - With three major annexation requests before them that could increase the town's population by a third or more, the Thurmont Town Commissioners have decided that's enough growth to deal with for now. They have asked town staff to draw up a draft version of a moratorium on annexations.

"Those three alone are plenty that we need on our plate at this time," said Commissioner Wayne Hooper during the town meeting Oct. 17.

Mayor Martin Burns had the proposal placed on the agenda. He wants to see no additional annexations made into the town until the town's inflow and infiltration problem is fixed. The town is currently making repairs to its sewer system, but the earliest it expects to be able to tell whether the problem has been fixed will be next spring.

"I would not be able to vote to approve any annexation unless I was sure the sewer system was able to handle the capacity of any of the three annexations in the Town of Thurmont," Burns said.

This would only affect future annexation requests. The three annexation requests that total 945 homes made last month still have to be considered by the commissioners.

Commissioner Ron Terpko pointed out that the moratorium was essentially a moot point because until the town's sewer problems are fixed, no development will pass the town's adequate public facilities ordinance. And once the sewer problems are fixed, the Maryland Department of Environment will lift its consent order against Thurmont, which would end the moratorium.

Under the consent agreement, Thurmont had enough capacity to add about 65 homes and some of this capacity has already been allocated.

Burns agreed that the APFO would halt any development until the sewer problem is fixed. However, at least one of the three developers who requested annexation has also asked for an exemption from the APFO.

"Anyone who thinks to bypass the APFO, from my standpoint, it's not going to happen," Burns said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to request the draft moratorium. At the request of Commissioner Glenn Muth, the only exception to the moratorium will be for single lots that have a septic system failure.

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