Annexing the Myers Farm into Thurmont
could be worth at least $7 million to Thurmont, but the town commissioners need
to decide whether the problems from the development of 350 homes and more than
300,000 square feet of commercial space are worth the cost.
As the Thurmont Commissioners begin sorting through the details associated
with the three proposed annexations, more details are emerging. The developers
of the Myers Farm, which will be called Thurmont Commons, spoke before a joint
meeting of the town commissioners and planning commission on Nov. 28.
Developer Tom Hudson with Hudson Land, LLC, said four things attracted him
to the property: 1) It's easy access to Route 15; 2) That it was sufficiently
away from the core of Thurmont so that it wouldn't overwhelm the downtown core;
3) The development would create minimal stress on town infrastructure; and 4)
It was close to natural surroundings and parks.
Site engineer Sean Davis said, "It's a wonderful piece of property. It's a
beautiful piece of property in its current natural state."
Homes and commercial space included
The conceptual development at this time is expected to include 350 homes
(122 townhouses and 228 single-family homes) and 300,000 to 400,000 square feet
of retail/office space (bordering Route 15). The average townhouse price is
projected to be around $250,000 and the single-family home price would average
around $395,000, though 44 of the homes would be priced significantly lower as
moderately-priced dwelling units.
The townhouses will be around the core square of the development, with
single-family homes to the west and commercial sites to the east. A community
center/community park is also planned on the west side. The development will be
designed to reduce rainwater runoff, according to Hudson.
Adequate water supply a concern
Thurmont Commons would also have its own sources of water and wastewater
treatment plant. The treatment plant would be designed to the state's new
enhanced-nutrient removal standards.
A major concern about the development has been where the water would come
from. Hudson says a water study shows that property under control of Hudson
Land can generate 135,000 gallons a day, which would support 350 homes and
320,000 square feet of commercial space.
"We can support a significant portion of dwelling units and retail with what
we have under contract," Hudson said.
Millions of dollars in impact fees and incentives
Hudson estimates that the development will generate about $4.4 million in
various town impact fees and the developer is offering another $2.6 million in
various incentives. In addition, a fiscal impact study commissioned by the
developer showed a net positive impact on the community of $84,000 a year.
The incentives include direct payments to the town of $5,000 per lot for the
first 150 lots, $6,000 per lot for the second 150 lots and $7,000 per lot for
the remaining lots. Other incentives upon annexation include: $45,000 more to
the Thurmont Lions Club for the trolley trail rehabilitation ($5,000 has
already been given), $50,000 to reimburse the town any fees associated with the
annexation and $50,000 to help with engineering of the industrial parkway north
Goal is 35 permits each year
Hudson is looking to get permits for 35 homes a year upon annexation, though
construction is not expected to commence until 2012.
Mayor Martin Burns said, "Thirty-five is decent. It's a lot better than what
I've heard before."
This means that the permits not used up to 2012 can be banked for use after
2012. The full build out of the homes would take place over 7-10 years once the
construction begins. Commercial development could begin upon annexation.
Roads around the development still remain a concern. Hudson met with the
State Highway Administration last year, but no answers for how to deal with
traffic and highway access are yet evident. It is likely an interchange will be
Kevin Haney, speaking for the Catoctin Area Planning and Preservation
Association, said his organization had studied all three proposed annexations
before the town. Though CAPPA does not support any of them, "This is the least
desirable one in our opinion," Haney said.
In CAPPA's view, the annexation would dramatically increase the population
in town, violate Smart Growth policies, strain infrastructure, lower the water
table and destroy scenic views.
Burns said that while he understood CAPPA's concern, he warned not only
CAPPA but any other opponent to annexation not to use Thurmont's support of The
Journey Through Hallowed Ground or designation as a scenic byway as a
If it does become an issue, Burns said, "I will do everything in my power to
reject those things and undo what the town has done for them."
This is the first in a series of meetings on the Thurmont Commons annexation
and a final decision is not expected until this coming February.