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Change postpones annexation vote

(4/5) Thurmont’s Planning and Zoning Commissioners postponed a decision on the 209.5-acre Myers Farm annexation last week after developer Tom Hudson changed his original request.

The new annexation plan, presented at a meeting March 22, proposed leaving a large area of agricultural zoning but would also retain approximately 448,000-square feet of retail zoning. Commissioners had planned to make a decision that evening on whether or not to recommend the original plan to the town commissioners.

Though some planning commissioners were pleased with the proposed removal of the residential component, others clearly were disturbed that the changes were made last minute by Hudson.

Commissioners were also concerned over the lack of written details on the proposal. Hudson provided only an altered map of the plan without any written documentation detailing the changes.

After much discussion, and on the advice of town attorney N. Lynn Board, the commissioners voted to continue the decision to a later date, to be determined.
But during the course of the hearing a number of issues were raised by residents and county planner Denis Superczynski who argued against the plan, even with the changes.

One of those issues, Superczynski said, was the fact that the proposed area to be annexed is not in the town’s planned growth area.

This was also a concern of town residents who testified at the hearing.

Thomas Cromwell, of Thurmont, said he supported comments made earlier in the evening by resident and former commission member John Ford. The only reason to extend the town would be to gain something the town “really wants,” Cromwell said, but he had not heard from anyone “a really good argument why we should extend the town in that direction.”

Resident Kurt Smith also opposed the plan based on the possible location of large stores like Wal-Mart or Home Depot that, he said, would increase traffic and weaken local small businesses.

“We’ve got a wonderful town and absolutely wonderful downtown businesses that are growing and thriving, doing well. It’s a great place to be and these two box stores coming in here would suck the life out of the town,” Smith said.

Smith also expressed concern over the number of automobile trips the larger stores would generate and the possible installation of a J-shaped turn as the exit off of Rt. 15 into the proposed retail area. A couple of residents said the J-turn was not safe for trucks, as evidenced by the problems at a similar turn on Hayward Road, in north Frederick.

After much discussion and testimony, the commissioners voted unanimously to continue the annexation to allow Hudson to prepare and submit the written details of the change, and for the commissioners and town residents to review the changes.

The next hearing on the annexation will be advertised, commission chair John Kinnaird said, to allow residents to attend and testify.

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