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CAPPA Review of the Revised Myers Farm Annexation Proposal

A Proposal that is Worse for Thurmont and the Area

The Catoctin Area Planning and Preservation Association (CAPPA) has reviewed the Revised Myers Farm Annexation Proposal submitted on April 5, 2007 by HKB Myers Land LLC and the developer (Hudson Land LLC). Although short on detail, the proposal to the Town of Thurmont is to annex 188 acres of county farmland so that Hudson Land can build 445,000 square feet of commercial space, retail and office space, including two box stores, in a project straddling Rt. 15's northern entrance to Thurmont.

CAPPA Analysis

The revised proposal is essentially the same as the original proposal, but with the following differences:




Size of area to be annexed 210 acres 188 acres
Residential development 350 homes 0 homes
Commercial development 320,000 sq 445,000 sq ft
Box stores One Two
Estimated gross contributions to Thurmont $9,188,5002 $2,645,000
Estimated net contributions to Thurmont $6,738,500 $45,000
Traffic solutions J-turns J-turns


  1. If the annexation is approved, the developers would only need to seek at a later date a change in zoning from A1 to a residential designation to build 350 or more homes. This is much easier to secure than an annexation, and is highly likely to occur within a few years.
  2. This figure comes from an estimate made by Mayor Burns in the Dec. 21, 2006 poll he circulated to Thurmont residents. It includes three amounts that would only benefit the new development (and not the current town residents or infrastructure), and $50,000 for a study of an industrial parkway connecting Thurmont's industrial area with Rt. 15 north of Thurmont, a parkway that has been proposed by some in Thurmont, but which is not in the existing master plan or even being considered currently for the revised master plan. The parkway would no doubt benefit the development being proposed by HKB Myers Land LLC, if it were eventually built. These self-interested sums amount to $2,450,000 and need to be subtracted from Mayor Burns' estimate to give an estimate of the net financial benefit to the Town of Thurmont:
    1. $2,000,000 for a waste processing plant the developers would build.
    2. $300-400,000 (say, $350,000) for well development the developer would undertake.
    3. $50,000 to cover Town costs to review the Myers Annexation Proposal.
    4. $50,000 to cover the cost of studying the feasibility of an industrial parkway
  3. This is the gross offer to the Town in the revised annexation proposal, based on the developer building the same size waste processing plant originally proposed, although this is unlikely (the revised proposal offers no cost estimate), $45,000 earmarked for the Thurmont Lions' Trolley Line initiative, $50,000 to study an industrial parkway, $500,000 to secure water supplies (probably from wells in the annexed area), and $50,000 to cover Town costs in reviewing the annexation proposal. Only the Trolley Line donation would be a net benefit to the Town, and then only for a Town organization, and not the Town Government.

CAPPA Conclusions

The revised proposal is worse for Thurmont than the original. Not only does it include most of the original cons, outlined in our review of the original proposal, but it is worse in several ways, as can be seen based on the analysis above.

Unchanged Cons

The revised proposal does not offer any solutions to the fundamental problems present in the first proposal, including:

  1. It is outside the Municipal Growth Boundary (MGB) in the Thurmont Master Plan
  2. It is outside the MGB projected for the revised Thurmont Master Plan.
  3. It would mean irreversible damage to the Catoctin Mountain viewshed along Rt. 15.
  4. It would extend Thurmont through a "lollipop" annexation to begin sprawl between Thurmont and Mount St. Mary's/Emmitsburg.
  5. It does not confirm to Maryland Smart Growth principles.
  6. It will cause serious increase in traffic congestion and related problems and dangers.
  7. It would damage if not destroy many of Thurmont's present businesses, especially those in the historic downtown.
  8. It does not conform to CAPPA's "Thurmont: A Vision and Path Forward" document.

Additional Negatives

And in addition to these unchanged cons associated with the original HKB Myers Land LLC proposal, there are several ways in which the revision is worse:

  1. More likely long-term sprawl: While the new annexation proposal does not include houses, it includes the land on which those houses can easily be added to the initial commercial development through the relatively easy process of a zoning change. By seeking to keep this farmland in the annexation proposal, HKB Myers Land and Hudson Land clearly demonstrate the intention to eventually seek zoning permission to build homes on the annexed land. Such a rezoning would likely start a chain reaction of rezoning requests for land adjacent to the extended Municipal Growth Boundary of Thurmont, extended sprawl north of Thurmont toward Emmitsburg, destroying the special beauty of the area.
  2. More commercial development: The commercial area to be built (retail and office) has been increased by 40%, from 320,000 sq ft to 445,000 sq ft.
  3. More commercial area damage to the view: The increased commercial area, with two box stores rather than one, would increase the damage to the natural beauty and views in that area.
  4. More damage to Thurmont's existing business community: Reports indicate that the new proposal envisages two box stores, instead of one. Even one store like Wal-Mart or Home Depot would very likely put out of business the two hardware stores now in Thurmont, as well as many of the other stores. Two stores would double the number of nails in the coffin of existing businesses, making it almost impossible to develop the revitalization of the old town of Thurmont.
  5. Less money for Thurmont: The gross estimate Mayor Burns made of what the original proposal might have brought to Thurmont, the estimate included benefits that would only accrue to the new development itself, and did not include estimates of the long-term costs that would have to be born by the Town. Looking at the more relevant net estimates, the new proposal is offering a tiny fraction (less than one percent) of the money in the first proposal, and none at all towards Town budget needs. We have been told by Mayor Burns that a major reason for annexing the Myers Farm is that it would bring millions of dollars to Thurmont that it needs to repair its waste processing plant and related infrastructure. The new proposal offers no funds for this purpose, or any other public purpose.

CAPPA concludes that the petitioners, HKB Myers Land and Hudson Land, have not improved their annexation proposal to the Town of Thurmont. Rather, they have increased its commercial component while seeking to disguise the fact that the housing component of the proposal has only been postponed, to make the annexation more palatable to Thurmont residents who clearly have opposed the original proposal. What's more, a primary reason given by Major Burns to justify the original annexation proposal, namely millions of dollars in payments to the Town that could be used to fix its wastewater system, has been taken off the table.

In short, the revised proposal is worse for Thurmont and area residents, and is made without any good arguments, let alone improved arguments, for the annexation of the Myers Farm into the Town of Thurmont.

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