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Drees annexation proposal will return

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(2/1) Though currently tabled, the proposed annexation of property south of Thurmont into town, Drees Homes still feels the project would be beneficial to the town.

The proposed project would include 119 single-family homes, 60 townhomes, 42 neo-traditional townhomes and 108 condominiums.

“We are proferring to cap the density at four units per acre which make it compatible with low-density residential,” Attorney Bob Dalrymple told the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission on Jan. 25. He added later that the actual density for the proposed development was 2.89 units per acre.

Dalrymple said Drees Homes would continue to pursue development of the property because “it’s the logical place for the town to grow next.”

The property also has the potential to pay for itself. Using the formula from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, created using cost-of-service figures calculated by the American Farmland Trust, the development has a net cost of service to the town of $2.05/acre.

The single-family homes will have 2,200 to 3,000 square feet and be priced at about $400,000. The townhouses will have three floors and be priced around $250,000. The condominiums will have 2-3 bedrooms and be priced around $200,000.

Stuart Terl with Drees Homes presented the commission with a study conducted by the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University that showed the breakeven point for housing costs versus needed services in the county was $288,000 for a single-family home, $239,000 for a townhouse and $143,100 for a condominium.

Terl said the company would like to be able to get up to 25 permits per year per type of housing. This means the total of permits each year that the company is seeking is up to 75.

He added that by building all three types of homes at the same time, the build out would be complete in 4.5 to 5.5 years.

We won’t be seeing the first house for two years,” Terl said.

Consulting engineer Terre Rhoderick added some other details about the project.
“The site is buffered from Route 15 because of residential development already there,” Rhoderick said. “We will not be infringing on the viewscape.”

The site’s preliminary traffic study at eight intersections shows that the only location where traffic would increase significantly is at the Thurmont Boulevard/Frederick Road intersection during the evening rush hour.

Planning commission members also pointed out that the development could have trouble connecting a proposed hiker/biker trail to the old trolley trail the Lions Club is rehabilitating. They also had concerns about the number of annual permits the development is seeking.

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