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Lawyer wants town to fix sewer problem by annexing his farm

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(6/25) Since a costly flooding event in the Ironmaster Court area in 2003, the Town of Thurmont has pumped sewage from the manholes into a nearby stormwater management pond during heavy flow times to avoid repeating the incident.

Now a neighboring property owner has told the town commissioners that option is not acceptable while at the same time urging the commissioners to annex his property for the development of 250 homes.

"It is entirely unacceptable for me to allow my property to be used as a dumping ground for the town's problem," Jan Lawyer told the commissioners during a recent meeting.

Lawyer is trying to have his farm annexed into Thurmont so that Beazer Homes can build 250 single-family homes on it.

In May, however, the commissioners announced that there didn't seem to be a majority of support for the annexation. Though Beazer Homes was free to continue seeking annexation of the Lawyer Farm, the commissioners said they wanted the developer to know that it would be an uphill battle.

Within days of the announcement, Lawyer sent the commissioners a letter telling the commissioners that because the stormwater management pond next to Ironmaster Court drained into his farm, he wanted the town to stop pumping sewage into it as a way to avoid sewer back-ups in the surrounding houses.

"We still think that we're a viable option," Beazer's land-use attorney David Severn said.

Beazer Homes presents its annexation proposal as the answer to the sewage problem the town is dealing with. Severn told the commissioners on June 12 that the Lawyer Farm annexation was "uniquely suited and uniquely able to correct an existing problem you have in Ironmaster Court."

Part of the Beazer Home development proposal would be to oversize its sewage infrastructure and divert much of the capacity that is now going through Ironmaster Court through the new system on the Lawyer Farm. It is part of a $2.8 million package Beazer Homes is offering in addition to the $3.2 million in fees and $315,000 annually in taxes the town would expect to receive if the 250 homes were developed.

Burns said that the presentation was "100 percent" productive until Lawyer's comment that the town must stop pumping sewage into its stormwater management pond.

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