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Myers Annexation back with houses included

(7/6) The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission heard little new information when developer Tom Hudson reintroduced his original plans for the building 350 homes and 400,000 square feet of business space on 210 acres north of Thurmont.

Hudson told the commission that he was presenting a plan that would "grow the town in a sustainable and fiscally responsible manner."

Hudson said that he would dedicate 12.5 percent of the homes in the proposed development or 44 housing units as moderately priced housing as outlined in Frederick County's MPDU program.

The developments single-family homes are expected to start at $395,000 and the townhouses would start at $250,000.

Since the development could not move forward if the town had to handle the development's sewage, Hudson has offered to build a 100,000 to 125,000-gallon capacity wastewater treatment plant that uses a membrane filter. It would also be designed to the state's new enhanced nutrient removal standards.

"I've been told this system was developed for really heavy industrial applications so its been stress tested," Hudson said.

The development calls for up to 400,000 square feet of retail/office space. Two large box stores are considering space in the development. One is a Wal-Mart/Target-type store and the other is a Lowe's/Home Depot-type. Together, they would use about 300,000 square feet.

A hospital is also interested in building about 40,000 square feet in a 2-3 story building for an emergency care center and doctors' offices.

Commission members Randy Waesche and Sabrina Massett said they were concerned about how the big box stores would affect local businesses.

Hudson has agreed to cap the number of new permits to 35 per year. However, if he does not use the 35 permits in any year, the remainder will rollover to the next year. He agreed that no more than a total of 50 would be issued in any year. He expects that construction wouldn't start until 2010.

The development will be subject to the town's adequate public facilities ordinance, which is designed to ensure that adequate capacity exists in schools, roads, sewage and water before development begins.

The development is expected to generate 178 students, which would probably be 17-26 students a year.

With traffic issues, the state might eventually recommend the development have an interchange for access onto Route 15. The cost of this is estimated at $6 million.

"I would be losing 40-50 percent of my buildable area," Hudson said. "I can't pay $6 million for an interchange but we can look at some alternatives."

Waesche said the plan allowed "more rapid urbanization of Thurmont than I think we are prepared to handle."

He said the town already had 18 years worth of infill development to deal with growth. However, Commission Chairman John Kinnaird pointed out that the infill development was only potential because people hadn't come forward saying they are willing to subdivide their land.

"We can't make decisions on what possibly could occur," said Commission Member Randy Cubbedge.

Kinnaird also pointed out that the development will not affect the same viewshed most people think will be affected.

"You'd have to drive right up to Bob Black's orchard before you could even see anything on the property," Kinnaird said. "The scenic overlook has nothing to do with this."

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