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Potential annexation on south side of Thurmont

(6/1) While many residents' attention has been turned to the north and the possible request to annex the Myers' farm, a similarly large annexation request may come before the town commissioners for property to the south of town.

"We look at Thurmont as a great location north of Frederick," said Barry Weller with Drees Homes in Frederick. "We thought we could build some homes there that you don't have to be a millionaire to afford and you still live in Frederick County.'

Drees is the developer for a residential project next to the under-construction Weis Market south of Thurmont. Three parcels of property have been planned for about 360 homes, according to Mayor Martin Burns.

"Right now, I think it's a food fight between them to be the first to come in with a request," Burns said.

He was told about the new project when he attended a meeting he thought was called to discuss a rezoning request for Stonewall Acres. Burns said the confusion was his because the same attorney represents both properties.

Of the three property parcels, two are already under contract and one is being negotiated, according to Burns. The development could include about 130 single-family homes, 130 small townhomes and 100 larger townhomes.

"The design they showed me included roundabouts, a small park, a large park with a pool and walking trails that connect to existing trails to the new library," Burns said.

The developer would like to build the homes at a rate of about 80 a year.

Burns said he told the developer, "My residents aren't going to go for that."

Weller said community support for the project is important and company representatives are beginning to gather information about what the new development would need to be acceptable to residents.

"We will never make all the people happy because for some one house is too many," Weller said. "However, Drees has a reputation of bringing more to a community than it takes from it."

Even if the property were annexed today, no new homes could be built for some time because it wouldn't meet the town's adequate public facilities ordinance. The primary school is over capacity and the town has not yet fixed its sewer problems.

"If this whole thing goes as quickly as it could go, I think it would still be a few years before we would start building," Weller said.

Drees wants to conduct soil and water studies as their next step.

"On the positive side, this project doesn't have a big box store that seems to upset a lot of people," Burns said.

Burns described the area in question as marshy. County Planner Denis Superczynski agreed.

"I think a lot of what has stopped potential development back there is the wet soils," Superczynski said. "It will be interesting to see how they address the issue."

The Stonewall Acres project is already within town limits, but the property is zoned agricultural. The developer would like to build 75 homes on it.

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