James Rada, Jr.
(5/1) The weak housing market
nationwide is also affecting Thurmont. In
2007, 23 dwelling units were built, the lowest
number in the past 20 years. Additionally,
only five residential lots were recorded (a
rough indicator of future growth), which tied
2006 for the lowest number on record.
Thurmont Planning and Zoning Chairman John
Kinnaird said that the commission looked at
keeping growth in the town to no more than 35
houses a year, which was incorporated into the
town’s draft version of the master plan.
“It’s less than that now,” Kinnaird said.
“Now it’s actually declining with each year.”
The draft master plan recognizes that there
has been a slowing of growth in the town. “The
growth rate experienced in the 1990s, the
result of a significant peak in housing
construction during 1992 and 1993, did not
continue into the 2000s and indeed slowed to a
rate more consistent with that of the 1970s
and 1980s. Through the early 2000s the average
annual growth rate was 1.8 percent,” the plan
If the number of new homes built continues
to fall, as indicated by the number of new
lots recorded, then the 1.8-percent growth
rate will fall as well.
Kinnaird said that if the town is going to
grow at 35 houses a year, it is going to need
more building lots.
“We’re going to be asked to look at
annexations and Stonewall Acres is a godsend
to us right now if the zoning changes,”
Kinnaird said. Stonewall Acres is a property
in town that is seeking proper zoning to begin
infill development within town.
Those who support little growth in the town
may be happy with the low numbers, but that
growth has impacted the current budget and
will impact future budgets.
“It means we’ll have less to work with and
have,” said Thurmont Chief Administrative
Officer Bill Blakeslee.
The town collects impact fees that are
designed to pay for a new home or business’s
impact on roads, parks, sewers and water. In
addition, impact fees are paid to the county
for schools and libraries.
Thurmont’s town budget the past few years
has factored in impact fees for 25 new homes,
about half of what the average growth rate has
been. This has given the town an extra
$191,500 to use on capital projects, such as
sewer repairs and road improvements. The
impact fee income accounts for 13.4 percent of
those capital project budgets.
However, with only five houses recorded,
impact fees are down.
“I think we’ll be OK, but it’s going to be
a lean, tight year and the budget will reflect
that,” said Mayor Martin Burns.