(3/3) An average of 54 new houses a year have been built in Thurmont over the past 7 years. Most residents believe that is growing too fast. They would rather see more economic growth in the town, according to the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission.
"We took the survey in preparation for the master plan update," said commission member John Kinnaird. "We wanted a gauge so that we would know what people wanted in the town."
In a draft of the survey results obtained by The Dispatch, opinions from nearly 600 people have been tabulated. Another 50 or 60 remain to be figured into the results, according to Frederick County Planner Denis Superczynski.
About 2,900 surveys were mailed out in December and responses came from all areas of the town.
"Few people will be able to come forward and say 'Our part of town wasn't represented,'" Superczynski said.
Asked if the current rate of 54 new homes a year should be continued, 60.8 percent responded it was too high while 30.7 percent it was just right.
While the specific types of houses residents want to see built hadn't yet been tabulated in the draft report, Superczynski said homes for empty nesters and step-up homes scored well.
He told the planning and zoning commission on Feb. 23 that the varied response in the types of homes needed was "a mature acknowledgement by some folks you do need some growth. This is not the response of a community saying, 'Shut it off.'"
When development does occur, 63.5 percent of residents said developers should be held to a higher standard than at present.
While residents want to see slower residential growth, they apparently want stronger economic growth. About 73.4 percent said that the town should take steps to encourage economic growth. Only 15.4 percent said the town commissioners shouldn't encourage economic growth.
Most resident believe that the current streets and roads are adequate to handle the amount and type of traffic in town. However, if the roads are improved, 49.4 percent want them improved without encouraging development, and 35.7 percent want the improvements made to support economic
Another finding in the survey is that 65.2 percent of residents want better quality parks and recreation facilities and equipment. In a related question, 53.8 percent of residents want a better sidewalk system and 65.2 percent of residents want developers to maintain the sidewalks.
Planning and Zoning Chairman John Ford said, "It seems like people in the newer areas (of town) want more services."
The commission members will receive a complete report and evaluation later this month. The survey results will be part of the public input that will go into the town's master plan.
Kinnaird said, "This is very interesting. I think it will be a very useful tool."