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Creating a new Thurmont

(5/15)  Vickie Grinder and Thomas Cromwell think that the current process of allowing developers to submit plans for what they want to develop in Thurmont is the wrong way for the town to grow.

“We need to tell them what we want,” Grinder, who is Thurmont’s Main Street Manager, recently told the commissioners during a meeting.

“The thing that I see lacking is a Thurmont-taking-control-of-its-destiny idea,” Cromwell said.

She said the town needs to be strategically planning and designing how the town should look in the future.

“Any grant I’ve ever applied for this is the missing piece we always seem to have,” Grinder said. “It seems like we’re still in the dark ages so to speak.”

She said that decisions made about the future growth of Thurmont are being made based on the personal opinions of the commissioners and not following a well-thought-out plan. One result of such actions is that Thurmont is not a business-friendly town.

Mayor Martin Burns said that the problem is that “a plan is only as good as the next board.” While the current board might put together a plan that wins approval, a new board could come in and throw the plan out and start from scratch if it wanted to.

Burns also pointed out that having too specific a plan could tie the hands of the commissioners as they negotiate annexation agreements because a developer would know exactly what the town wants on a piece a land and offer nothing more.

Thurmont Planning and Zoning Chairman John Kinnaird also pointed out a contradiction in the argument for a strategic plan. It is being argued that a strategic plan is needed to maintain the town’s quality of life because otherwise the commissioners will make decisions based on personal opinion, which won’t be as good as a plan. However, Kinnaird pointed out that those commissioners acting without a strategic plan, created a quality of life that the proponents for a strategic plan want to maintain.

The commissioners said they would be willing to consider a draft plan to decide if it is too restrictive or points the town in a direction on which they agree.

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