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Myers Farm annexation decision postponed

Developer proposes eliminating 350 homes

Justin M. Palk
News-Post Staff

(3/24) It will be weeks or months before Thurmont's planning and zoning commission revisits the question of whether to annex the Myers Farm property.

Thursday night, the commission voted unanimously to postpone discussion of the annexation after Tom Hudson, who is seeking to develop the 210-acre site on the north side of town, proposed building only the commercial portions of the development.

Resident opposition was the driving factor in pulling 350 proposed homes out of the plan, said Hudson, principal member of Hudson Land LLC.

In a poll conducted by the town in December and January, 66 percent of 1,487 respondents said they were opposed to the annexation.

Taking the proposed homes out of the project won't be a make-or-break issue for the retailers that would occupy the roughly 400,000 square feet of commercial space in the development, Hudson said.

"Having 350 houses would have been nice," he said. "(It) would have been gravy."

This is a substantial departure from the original project, though, and one that should require Hudson to start the planning process over again, said Jane Sachs, a member of the board of Friends of Frederick County, a land stewardship group.

The new proposal could also turn out to be a delay of the housing development, rather than an abandonment of that part of the project, she said.

Making the proposal at Thursday night's meeting with no prior notice didn't give people enough time to gather information and consider it properly, said Sachs, who lives a few miles outside of Thurmont.

"Our primary concern was the disclosure to the public ... and having enough time to digest and participate," she said. "It feels like we're not getting enough information ahead of time to be able to analyze and do research."

Thurmont Mayor Martin Burns said that more than a week ago, he'd suggested to Hudson that eliminating the homes from the plan might make the project more palatable to the town's residents, but he had no prior knowledge that the developer would actually go that route.

It is within an applicant's rights to downsize a proposal, Burns said.

The planning and zoning commission's decision to postpone further discussion of the proposal was the right thing to do, he said.

Hudson said he plans to submit a formal written proposal within the next two weeks, and that it would be at least a month before the planning and zoning commission could take the issue up again.

Burns said it might be closer to two months before the commission discusses the annexation again, and that it would hold a public workshop on Hudson's new proposal before doing so.

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