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 Board of commissioners say potential annexation will not result in the construction of 100 new homes

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News-Post

The board of commissioners made it plain recently that a potential annexation on the northwest side of the town won't result in the construction of 100 new homes. However, the town’s elected leaders indicated they might accept a scaled-down version of the project.

Orren Stein, who has owned a farm around Gravel Hill Road for more than 40 years, made a preliminary inquiry about bringing part of his land within the town limits at the board’s Monday night workshop. Board members didn’t say they’d accept or reject the project, but they indicated that a plan to build 50 or 60 single-family homes on annexed land over five years would have a much greater chance to pass.

The scope of Mr. Stein’s 100-home tentative proposal was too much for at least two board members. Commissioner Kenneth Morgan said the town’s sewer plant can’t handle the extra waste and that he didn’t ³want to be responsible for dumping" sewage if the plant became overburdened.

Burgess Donald Trimmer said Thursday that the town’s wastewater picture will be clearer very soon. A new treatment plant with a daily licensed treatment capacity of 250,000 gallons per day, a 67 percent increase, is set to come online by April 1. Once it’s operating, an evaluation of remaining capacity as well as a pump station’s ability to handle extra waste can be done.

Commissioner Gary Smith also noted that 100 homes would represent about a 25 percent growth in the town’s housing base, which could tax many resources. ³That’s a huge impact on us," he said.

The board also placed the other potential drawback, water, squarely on Mr. Stein’s shoulders. He’s charged with finding enough safe water to serve the homes he wants to build.

It’s also possible that such a development could require more water storage. Mr. Smith questioned whether the town could provide adequate service if a fire broke out in that section of town.

Mr. Stein’s farm lies west of the railroad tracks on unincorporated land between Gravel Hill Road and Md. 550. He said Thursday that he trained harness horses there for about 40 years, but a recent accident has led him to look at alternative uses.

He said he hopes to develop less than 60 acres. Subdivision access would be from the bypass, so downtown streets shouldn’t be overtaxed by extra vehicles.

Mr. Stein said he intends to work with the town and thinks the commissioners’ concerns can be addressed. The project, he said, will hinge on the ability to find water and the economic feasibility of scaling the development down.

"The business side of it will have to determine what’s plausible," he said. If an annexation is sought and approved and the project is built, Mr. Stein said he plans to continue living in the farmhouse that would be beside the subdivision.

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