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Survey was meant for planning,
 not annexation

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(1/12) The planning and zoning survey conducted in late 2005 has been used by some to support annexation of property into the town and more often, by others opposing annexation.

It is meant for neither, according to some members of the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission.

Randy Cubbedge, a planning and zoning commission member, told the Thurmont Commissioners, "That survey was never intended as a guidepost for annexation."

He said the purpose of the survey, conducted in November 2005, was to guide the commission as it worked to develop an updated master plan for the town. However, he said even commission members have differed on their interpretation of the data in the plan.

Planning and Zoning Member John Kinnaird agreed with Cubbedge. "You can read every result into the survey," Kinnaird said.

The survey went out to each household in Thurmont (2,372) and 658 were returned. The results were compiled in February. With the expectation of annexation requests last fall, the results were used both to support and oppose annexation.

The Catoctin Area Planning and Preservation Association included the results in its position paper against the annexations, including a section devoted to the survey and writing, "All of these results lead to the conclusion that the three proposed annexations are inconsistent with the wishes of the town residents and their vision of what their town should look like in the future."

Mayor Martin Burns responded when a CAPPA spokesperson tried to present the paper. "Any organization that has a position prior to them even presenting their case, in my opinion is wrong," Burns said.

Because of confusing use of the survey and its relatively low response rate, Burns has started a campaign to get all registered voters in town to make their wishes known about the annexations.

Commissioner Ron Terpko said he hadn't been hearing from residents about the annexations he believes because those against the annexations don't have answers for how to keep the town thriving without growth.

"If you have no growth and no new people, you get no new business," Terpko said.

Burns has held a meeting to gather resident opinions, has sent out a request in water bills to vote on the poll, and has also made the poll available in the town office.

Kinnaird pointed out that many people don't care one way or the other about the annexations and such people should be considered "yes" votes because they don't oppose the annexations. Burns agreed.

As each person votes, his or her name will be checked off a voter roll. This keeps people from double voting and also filters out non-residents' opinions. In this way, the commissioners hope to get a feel for whether a majority of town citizens want to proceed or not with the annexations.

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