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Lawyer annexation doubtful

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(5/3) In a straw poll during the May 1 commissioners meeting, the Thurmont Commissioners expressed doubt that the Lawyer Farm annexation proposal by Beazer Homes would overcome the commissioners’ reservations. If that is the case, it is doubtful that the property will be annexed into town.

“There’s a lot of issues I do not think they’ll be able to overcome,” Mayor Martin Burns said.

Among his concerns were the fact that the proposed project has 250 single-family homes with no housing variety to allow different price points (like the Drees annexation proposal) or even a variety of land uses with commercial or retail (like the Myers annexation proposal). Burns also said he believes the proposal will not alleviate any traffic on East Main Street or Moser Road.

Commissioner Ron Terpko added, “With the consent order with MDE there’s no possible and the traffic is going to be a nightmare.”

Burns said that what the commissioners were doing was not taking an official vote but expressing their feelings about what is known about the project to date.

“It’s their (Beazer’s) option. We just can’t sit up here and say denied,” Burns said.
The idea behind the straw poll was to give the developer an indication of the direction the commissioners were leaning. This would allow the developer to decide whether it was worth the effort to continue to pursue annexation. Burns recently announced a similar straw poll concerning the Myers Farm annexation proposal.

At this point, Burns said, “Drees Homes is the one that looks the most promising.”
He said this is not to say that the project doesn’t have drawbacks, but it also has its positives. One such positive is that part of the annexation proffer to the town could include a $4.6-million equalization basin which would act as a “Band-Aid” for the town’s sewer problem and buy time for the town to deal with the multi-million-dollar repairs.

Otherwise, Burns said the sewer repair costs will begin to impact the town budget. “I cannot sit on my hands knowing there’s a sewer issue and not do anything for another year,” Burns said.

Terpko said that with the changes in the town charter, the town commissioners could put all three annexations on a referendum. While the commissioners did not discount this option, they thought it still might be premature to either take a straw poll on the Drees annexation proposal or put it to referendum.

George Rathlev with Beazer Homes could not be reached for comment prior to publication.

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