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Annexation hearing, vote off agenda

Jeremy Hauck
The Gazette News

(2/15)  The public hearing on the Myers Farm annexation, originally scheduled for Tuesday, will not be held in Thurmont until at least early April, according to town clerk Rick May

The annexation schedule posted on the town’s Web site is inaccurate, May said Tuesday. Thurmont’s board of commissioners can hold the public hearing and the final vote on the annexation only after giving the public 45 days’ notice, according to state law.

Tom Hudson of developer Hudson Land, a subsidiary of Washington, D.C. based HKB Myers, began talking to Thurmont about annexing a 210-acre tract of land known as the Myers Farm more than a year ago, after entering into a contract to purchase the land from the Myers family.

The contract, the terms of which are ‘‘confidential," Hudson said, will remain valid regardless of whether the town annexes the property.

The developer wants to build 350 homes and up to 400,000 square feet in retail space on the land. The design is called Thurmont Commons. Town commissioners read the petition to annex at a town meeting on Oct. 24.

Hudson said Monday that a small amount of the land north of Thurmont and along U.S. Route 15 could be developed for highway service immediately, but most of the property is zoned as agriculture. That land would need either a zoning change from the county or annexation into the town in order to be developed.

‘‘We’re trying to do something that’s a little bit more creative and a lot more ‘walkable,’ more pedestrian-oriented, which is a town center concept with general commercial," Hudson said.

Land owner Eugene Myers, 67, said Monday that he wants to sell the land because his family no longer plans to farm it.

‘‘I started working when I was 6, 7? I got 60 years in," Myers said. ‘‘A lot of people retire [after] 40 years or 30 years."

Myers said that he and his six brothers and sisters began working on their father’s dairy farm at an early age because their father was partially disabled by polio.

Becky Linton, Myers’ sister, said she remembered working ‘‘24/7."

‘‘We grew up on this farm, all of us," said Linton, who now lives in Frederick. ‘‘We all worked."

According to Myers and Linton, the younger generation hasn’t taken to the farming life.

‘‘He has three daughters, and they don’t want the farm," Linton said.

Area residents have recently expressed disapproval of the proposed development. A January survey conducted by the town found that about 66 percent of residents who responded were against the annexation. Of the 1,487 surveys returned to the town office, 984 were marked ‘no.’

Some county residents who live near the farm said they don’t want the development to go forward.

‘‘I’ve been here 45 good years," said Pat Troxel, who lives on five acres on Kelbaugh Road. ‘‘I’m not for it at all."

Clifford Stull, Troxel’s neighbor on Kelbaugh Road, said he had a similar opinion.

‘‘We just like it the way it is," Stull said.

The Myers family acknowledged the opposition to Hudson Land’s proposal, but said that, in the long run, more housing and shopping north of Thurmont may not be a bad thing.

‘‘Looking for Thurmont right now, I can see why people are concerned about it," Linton said. ‘‘This would be good for here, 25 years down the road."

Myers echoed his sister, saying, ‘‘Thurmont needs some commercial."

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