Emmitsburg may be adding 292
acres to its town limits, a move that will increase the
town's size by 44 percent.
planning commission heard an annexation petition
Monday for 10 properties on South Seton Avenue, Route
15, Keysville and Creamery roads.
The petitioners are led by Mount
St. Mary's College and Mountain Manor Substance Abuse
Treatment Facility, each owning properties to the
southeast of Route 15.
The Mount wants its 85-plus acre
property annexed so it can look into developing a
biotech research facility "to enhance the science
programs and educational viability" of the school,
according to an Extension of Services Report prepared by
the Town of Emmitsburg. A production facility is not
expected on the site.
The Mount property's current
agricultural zoning does not permit development of a
research facility. Once annexed into the town, the town
can agree to give the property the office/research
zoning it needs to proceed with its plan.
While the Mount does not have an
immediate need to develop its property or to obtain a
connection to the town's water or sewer services, the
other primary property owner does.
Mountain Manor has urgent sewer
service needs due to severe septic problems now. In
addition, attorney Rand Weinberg, representing the
facility, told planning commissioners that the State of
Maryland has offered the facility a grant to allow it to
expand its services. Connection to public sewer could
make that possible.
The proposed annexation will
include a total of 291.7 acres. About 97 acres owned by
the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's Inc. are on the
west side of South Seton Avenue directly across from the
National Emergency Training Center. It will not include
Most of the remaining acreage
will be on the south and east sides of Route 15. The
petition includes 85.5 acres owned by Mount St. Mary's,
and about 37 acres owned by Mountain Manor. Getty's Gas,
a restaurant, a private farm and property owned by
Allegheny Power are all included in the annexation
The Town of Emmitsburg includes
about 660 acres (about 1.1 square miles) and has a
population of around 2,100, based on promotional
materials produced by the town in 2001.
The annexation will expand the
city's size substantially, but may not add substantially
to the town's tax base. Most of the properties involved
have a tax-exempt status as educational or charitable
Attorney Krista McGowan,
representing the Mount, said the school and Emmitsburg
Limited Partnership (Mountain Manor) would pay all of
the town's costs for annexation, including legal fees,
consultant fees and other costs for advertising the
It was no surprise to anyone
that water and sewer availability was a concern,
particularly in light of the town's recent water ban.
The petition indicates that all
wells on the properties would be granted to the Town of
Emmitsburg. Additionally, the petitioners would be
responsible for constructing a treatment facility for
the water and all lines and mains needed to support
service to the area.
There was some debate at the
meeting over whether the town has the sewage capacity to
accommodate the annexation based on varying estimates of
need developed by the town, the petitioners and the
county's adviser to Emmitsburg
The town's report notes that
there will be only a "limited" immediate
demand for water and sewer if the annexation is approved
because there is no further development planned for the
bulk of the properties involved.
However, the Mountain Manor's
need for public sewer will immediately increase the
demand on available systems.
Town planning adviser Jim Gugel
of the Frederick County Department of Planning and
Zoning expressed concerns about Emmitsburg's ability to
handle the potential draw on its resources.
Another possible complication is
that owners of a farm on the south side of Route 15 have
not formally signed the petition for annexation.
Attorneys generally agreed they could remove the farm's
owners from the petition without having to re-advertise
the annexation, while adding them to the annexation
would require they start from scratch.
Town attorney John Clapp was not
as certain of their assertion as the other attorneys
were and wanted to examine the issue further.
Due to the sizable amount of
information presented at the meeting and the conflicting
figures and estimates, planning commissioners decided to
postpone consideration of the annexation until their
next meeting on Monday, March 25.
Planning Commission President
Ted Brennan asked the parties to come to some joint
conclusions about what the drain on resources would be
with the proposed annexation.
Planning commissioners are
responsible for making a recommendation to the town's
Board of Commissioners about whether to approve the
annexation. It is the town's board that will hear
testimony, public comment and make the final decision on
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