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Thurmont residents say ‘no’ to growth

Jeremy Hauck
The Gazette

(2/2)  Thurmont residents have rejected the proposed annexation of the Myers farm and the 350 homes it would bring, Mayor Martin Burns announced Tuesday night.

Respondents to a survey conducted by the town voted against the annexation, which called for incorporating 210 acres of land north of Thurmont and along the Catoctin Mountain Highway, by 32 percentage points, according to Rick May, Thurmont town clerk.

May said Wednesday that out of about 5,500 ballots mailed with the town’s Dec. 29 electric bill, 1,487 were returned, marking a 27 percent response.

The poll asked residents to vote yes, no or indifferent to the annexation proposed by Hudson Land, a subsidiary of HKB Myers Land of Washington, D.C.

About 66 percent of respondents — or 981 ballots — did not want the annexation; 30 percent — 446 ballots — favored it. Four percent of the responses were marked indifferent.

It’s now up to the board of commissioners to approve or reject the annexation at a public hearing scheduled for Feb. 20.

If the commissioners approve and there is no referendum, the Myers Farm will become part of Thurmont and new boundaries will be drawn in April.

The proposal, formally read at a town meeting in October, calls for 350 homes and up to 400,000 square feet in retail space in the area bounded by U.S. Route 15 and Kelbaugh and Franklinville roads.

The four-page poll listed the pros and cons of the annexation, and the costs of repairs to the town sewer system expected to begin this year.

‘‘With the amount of money offered by the developer the town can keep rates and taxes lower and can provide years’ worth of additional capital projects at no cost to current residents," read the ballot, written by Burns.

But under ‘‘cons," the ballot said, ‘‘The proposed annexation runs counter to Maryland’s Smart Growth policies by growing the town outside the town growth limits."

Hudson Land in November told the Thurmont Board of Commissioners and the planning commission that the town stands to benefit from the development to the tune of $7 million in impact fees and incentives.

Frederick County Commissioner Kai Hagen, who lives north of Thurmont, responded to the result Wednesday via an e-mail to The Gazette.

‘‘I think it accurately indicates that a sizable majority of people are opposed to the annexation of the Myers Farm," Hagen said. ‘‘I commend Mayor Burns for making the effort to get a sense of how people are leaning on this issue."

Burns could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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