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County seeks to limit northern town growth

(8/12) The Frederick County Planning and Zoning Commission is recommending zoning changes north of Thurmont that will discourage growth in that area.

During a recent meeting of the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission, County Planner Denis Superczynski, who also works with the town commission as the town's planner, explained to the members that the county commission was recommending that parcels of land north of town be downzoned to agriculture. The current zoning on the parcels is highway services and had been recommended in the county plan for office research industrial.

The planning commissioners saw it as an attempt by the county to limit the town's northward growth. Planning Commissioner Randy Cubbedge said that the county was "putting speed bumps" in the way of the town.

"Do we let the county tell us what we're going to do or do we let the town tell us what we're going to do?" said Planning Commissioner Ray Williams.

Despite the intent of the new recommendations, Superczynski said that "The impact on annexation is nil. This does not forbid you from annexing that piece of property."

What it would do would be delay development on that property for five years. Tom Hudson with Hudson Land Development has proposed commercial uses on part of the Myers Farm that includes the land zoned highway services. Because highway services are not necessarily incompatible with the commercial uses, development of that portion of the property could theoretically begin right away if the property was annexed.

By changing the zoning to agriculture, the proposed commercial use then becomes incompatible and the town would have to wait five years after the property is annexed to rezone it.

"I respect the position that the county planning and zoning plays with the county, but this is the town of Thurmont," said John Kinnaird, Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission chairman.

In an interview with The Dispatch, Superczynski said the county planning commission believes that Roddy Creek forms a natural northern boundary for the town and the members had concerns with the town's consideration of extending the boundary further north than that.

"From the county side, the land between the municipal boundary and the growth boundary they would like to see zoned with the least intensity," said Supercyznski.

The downzoning recommendation is unusual in the fact that the planning commission usually waits for the municipal plan boundaries to be set before recommending county changes.

"I believe that it is an honest policy difference on what happens north of that creek," said Superczynski. "The planning commission is showing that they don't belive that that is the right place for that type of development."

Kinnaird said that he has no problem with the change if that is the desire of the property owner, otherwise, "I don't think it affects our decision process at all. I would just treat it as another comment."

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