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Thurmont annexation requests stalled in commission

Jeremy Hauck
The Gazette

Two developers who, just a year ago, were banging on Thurmont’s door asking for annexations, have backed down their interest in the town.

John Kinnaird, chairman of Thurmont’s Planning and Zoning Commission, the body of appointed officials that votes first on all proposed annexations, said Tuesday it’s been months since he’s heard from Drees Homes or Beazer Homes.

‘‘I’m not sure whose [court] the [ball] is in," Kinnaird said.

George Rathlev, executive vice president for the Maryland Division of Atlanta-based Beazer Homes USA, said the ball is in Thurmont’s court.

‘‘We certainly are [still interested in developing near Thurmont]," Rathlev said Tuesday, adding that his company is ‘‘waiting patiently" for Thurmont to resolve its infrastructure issues before resuming negotiations.

Beazer Homes and the owners of the 131-acre tract known as the Lawyer Farm, between Moser and Jimtown roads, want to create 241 lots for townhouses averaging $450,000 in price.

Kinnaird said that the town’s commitment to slowing development while it looks for ways to fund repairs to the town’s derelict sewer system ‘‘is probably the big hold up" for the two developers. Thurmont is appealing a multimillion-dollar judgment in a lawsuit sparked by sewer backups in 2003, at the same time attempting to respond to a demand by the Maryland Department of the Environment to prevent future overflows.

Fort Mitchell, Ky.-based Drees Homes in October 2006 asked the town to annex 108 acres of land lying between Weis Market and the Maple Run golf course. If the town were to give its blessing, Drees would build 120 two-bedroom condominiums, 135 three-bedroom townhouses and 121 four-bedroom single-family homes on the land.

Division President Stuart Terl last summer reiterated the company’s desire to develop in Thurmont. A message left Tuesday for Terl was not returned by The Gazette’s press time.

Commissioners restructure planning commission

Thurmont commissioners on Monday passed an ordinance enlarging the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission to seven voting members from five, making the commission’s two alternates regular members.

Officials to meet with federal representatives

Three Thurmont officials were expected to meet with U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) and U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-Dist. 6) in Mikulski’s office in Washington, D.C., today regarding Thurmont’s sewer woes.

Commissioners earlier this year persuaded officials from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Catoctin Mountain Park, Cunningham Falls State Park, and the offices of Mikulski and Bartlett to come to the table by informing directors at the two parks that the town may consider not renewing its contract to treat the parks’ wastewater.

Commissioner Ronald A. Terpko, who was expected to attend to the meeting, on Monday called the earlier discussion with the federal officials a ‘‘fantastic meeting," adding that he believes Thurmont has a ‘‘great shot" at obtaining federal funds to help speed repairs to its long-neglected sewers.

The town expects to spend $4.6 million to completely repair its sewer system lines.

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