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Master plan ready for public comment

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(4/17) After two and a half years of writing, discussion, planning and arguments, the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission has drafted a plan for Thurmont’s future development that includes trying to take a step back in time to preserve the downtown business district.

Planning and Zoning Chairman John Kinnaird said there were “So many opposing viewpoints. This is a center of the road that covers as much public comment as we could.”

Updating the 1998 Thurmont Master Plan began at the end of the 2005. Now the planning and zoning commission is ready to lay out the plan before the public.

“This is going to let people know this thing didn’t die. It’s out there for public comment,” said Denis Superczynski, the county planner who has been helping the town.

The update suggests the creation of a new land use designation: mixed use. Land use designations show how the town wants property to be developed over time, while zoning is a regulatory designation to make the land use designation happen.
Superczynski said the new designation would allow for “the kind of mixed uses that were in Thurmont for its first 150 years.”

It builds on the town’s history by incorporating business and residential uses in the existing town building.

“It’s not radical, but it is a different way of looking at things,” Superczynski said.

Kinnaird said the new zoning would re-establish what the town had lost over the years. Planning and Zoning Commission Member Randy Cubbedge added, “It also helps protect some of the small businesses that are already established.”

As for how fast the commission expects the town to grow, they want to plan for no more than 35 new houses a year. Based on this number, the town has more than 20 years of water and sewer capacity, though it still needs to fix the infill problem.

Public open houses to view the new plan and ask questions will be May 8 and May 20. The public hearing will be June 5.

The plan should be sent to the commissioners later in June and any zoning changes should begin in August.

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