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0.3 acres halts 130 acre annexation request

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(5/3) Three-tenths of an acre has stalled the Lawyer Farm annexation request.

George Rathlev with Beazer Homes spoke to the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission on April 22 about a problem with the annexation request that has arisen in the past few months. It involves a .3-acre piece of land that the Town of Thurmont owns but is not within the town’s boundaries.

“You cannot leave a piece of land in the county that is completely surrounded by land in town,” said Dave Servern, the attorney representing Beazer, which is exactly what would happen if the Lawyer Farm was annexed into the town.

Beazer Homes wants Thurmont to annex 130 acres into town that they would then develop 250 single-family homes on. However, this can’t happen unless the town first annexes that small piece of property.

“Unless it does happen, we are stuck in limbo and can’t move forward with our own annexation proposal,” Severn said.

Beazer offered to pay all of the associated fees with the small annexation (estimated to be around $3,500) if the town decided to pursue the annexation.

The commission members discussed options for addressing this issue and decided to recommend to the town commissioners that they pursue both annexation requests simultaneously with Beazer paying for the costs of both request. Then the smaller annexation would be heard first at the meeting where the commissioners would vote to annex or not. If the commissioners vote “no” on the smaller annexation, the larger Lawyer Farm annexation would be a dead issue. If the commissioners vote “yes” on the smaller annexation, then they would also vote on the Lawyer Farm annexation.

The Lawyer Farm project includes 250 houses on 8,000 and 12,000 square foot lots. Beazer would like to have 35 houses permitted each year.

One major improvement Beazer Homes proposes is to oversize the sewer line needed for their development by a four times the needed capacity and then to use that additional capacity to relieve some of the of the sewage traveling through town lines and causing problems on Ironmaster Court, according to Rathlev.

He also pointed out that the proffer package Beazer is offering the town for the annexation would be worth about $6 million to the town.

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