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Developers want to get down to
 business in Thurmont

Jeremy Hauck

(8/2) ‘‘The developer is bullish on this property," said C. Robert ‘‘Bob" Dalrymple, a partner in the law firm representing the developer. ‘‘We think that the timing is right now [for commissioners] to be able to give a comprehensive review of our proposal."

The Fort Mitchell, Ky.-based developer wants the town to annex 108 acres of land lying between Weis Market and the Maple Run golf course. The annexation would create an unincorporated enclave between the golf course, the annexed land and the municipal boundary.

If the town agrees to annex the land, Drees Homes would build 120 two-bedroom condominiums, 135 three-bedroom townhouses and 121 four-bedroom single-family homes on the land.

‘‘I want to tell you, I’m really proud of what we’re putting together and putting on the table for you," said Stuart Terl, division president for the developer.

The developer proffered about $2.3 million in discretionary funds, an amount Dalrymple called ‘‘fair" and ‘‘substantial." The development would also yield $4.8 million in impact and tap fees paid to the town, Dalrymple said.

Terl called the low-lying area a ‘‘negative parcel."

An engineer working for Drees Homes downplayed the proposal’s potential impacts on traffic and the scenic values of nearby U.S. Route 15 – a national scenic byway since 2005.

Commissioners reminded the developer that the town is required by the state to limit development while it modernizes its derelict sewer system. Sewer backups in 2003 resulted this year in the town being held responsible for $3.4 million in damages to several homes.

‘‘I wouldn’t do anything without [the state’s approval]," Mayor Martin A. Burns said.

Terre R. Rhoderick, vice president with the design firm Loiederman Soltesz Associates, told commissioners that the developer would build a stormwater retention basin to prevent sewer backups during future repairs.

‘‘I understand your concern," Rhoderick said. ‘‘We’ve heard that loud and clear."

The new homes would connect to the town’s current wastewater treatment plant, he said.

Hudson’s Myers Farmproposal set for decision

After roughly 18 months of negotiations and meetings with Thurmont officials and residents, only the five-member board of town commissioners stands between developer Tom Hudson and his 350-home Thurmont Commons development.

Hudson, a principal at Hudson Land, a subsidiary of the Washington, D.C.-based HKB Myers Land, asked the town to annex the 210-acre Myers Farm north of town in October 2006. Commissioners will hold a public hearing and vote on the annexation petition no sooner than a month after notifying the public of the hearing. If commissioners approve the petition, the annexation would be final 45 days later, unless town residents overturn the decision with a referendum vote.

Last week marked the third time this year that a vote has gone against Hudson. The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission, by a margin of 2-1, on July 26 found the annexation proposal inconsistent with the town’s growth plan.

‘‘I believe in my heart that the motion that was approved was directly on point to their role," Burns said Monday.

Ray Williams, the planning and zoning commissioner who voted to recommend the annexation to the town board of commissioners, stood by his vote under direct questioning from Burns and town commissioners Tuesday.

Williams argued that he and his fellow planning and zoning members, laboring for more than a year on a long-awaited update of the town’s growth plan, have not yet decided whether to push Thurmont’s growth boundary north or not.

Williams told commissioners he voted for the annexation because ‘‘part of it" would be included in the next version of the town’s growth plan, and because he felt the current plan – approved in 1998 – is outdated.

‘‘It’s kind of silly," he said.

Williams later said he favored the Myers Farm annexation for its proposed commercial, retail and office space. Hudson’s plan, he said, ‘‘offered us options."

The Frederick County Planning Commission in January found the proposal inconsistent with the county’s current land use designation for the property. That finding, if ratified by county commissioners, could freeze the land’s development for five years in the event the town agrees to annex it.

A January survey by the Town of Thurmont found that respondents disapproved of developing the Myers Farm by a margin of 2-1.

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