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Thurmont continues annexation discussions

Jeremy Hauck
The Gazette

(1/25) At Thurmont’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting tonight, officials are scheduled to discuss two controversial annexation proposals and elect a new chairperson.

The next chairman will be elected from among the commission’s four remaining members, including vice chairman John Kinnaird, Ray Williams, Randy Cubbedge and Sandra Hunter.

The commission will first review a presentation by Drees Homes, a developer that wants the town to annex 108 acres of land south of Thurmont and along Catoctin Furnace Road. Drees Homes wants to build 330 houses, a park and a swimming pool near Weis Market.

‘‘We’re going to show them what a great community we’re going to build," said Stuart Terl, division president at Drees Homes.

The planning commission will also review the Myers Farm annexation proposal from Hudson Land, a subsidiary of HKB Myers Land, of Washington, D.C. The developer wants Thurmont to annex 210 acres of land north of Thurmont and along the Catoctin Mountain Highway. Its plan calls for 350 homes and up to 400,000 square feet in retail space. The development is called Thurmont Commons.

Last week, the Frederick County Planning Commission, acting under a new state law, dampened the annexation’s prospects. The commission voted 6-1 to recommend that the Frederick Board of County Commissioners find the annexation’s proposed land-use 98 percent inconsistent with the county’s current zoning classification.

If commissioners agree with that finding, Hudson Land will not be able to start building on the land until 2012, regardless of whether Thurmont approves the annexation resolution.

‘‘I think the applicant knew that there was no way that they would get a finding of consistency," said Commissioner Kai Hagen (D), liaison to the planning commission.

‘‘It is a case of moving towards Emmitsburg, towards the forest, into a prime agriculture area where the neighbors had no reason to expect it or want it, when the town has other areas to annex, in a lollipop annexation," Hagen said. ‘‘I live in that area."

Two planning commission members, Joan McIntyre and Joseph Brown III, said the county would prefer to develop south and east of Frederick, rather than in the north.

‘‘I think we’re much better off developing the property that’s east of Frederick that lies in the [Interstate] 70 [and] 270 corridors, and not the properties in these outlying towns that have to funnel their traffic back down [U.S. Route] 15, which is a long ways off from being fixed," Brown said.

McIntyre agreed, saying, ‘‘the southern portion is where we should be growing."

Rand Weinberg, a lawyer for Hudson Land, told the commission that the company’s negotiations with the town were incomplete.

‘‘There’s a long way to go on this," Weinberg said. ‘‘We think that by the time we’re done, that there are going to be a lot of people looking at this and saying, ‘We think this is a good idea.’"

Tom Hudson, a principal at Hudson Land, said Tuesday that he would be at the meeting tonight to answer questions about the development, but would not make a presentation.

Thurmont town Commissioner Ron Terpko said Wednesday that the town is focused on the Myers Farm proposal because it will have the smallest impact on Thurmont’s sewer and water systems while presenting the best incentive package.

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