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
"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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